CROWN JEWELS
THE HOTTEST NEW ACCESSORIES STYLES PLUS MUST-HAVE ITEMS TOP BUYERS’ SHOPPING LISTS.

Byline: Holly Haber

January is not just a time for New Year’s resolutions, it’s also the month for retailers to review spring plans and fill in what’s lacking. So buyers plan to use market week to place jewelry and handbag orders, as well as to round out summer and transitional apparel inventories. While they’re not sure what the next big thing will be in accessories, many retailers are counting on clutch handbags, novelty shoes and all-important items to excite customers.

Jan Higgins, buyer, Madison and Purple Planet in Dallas:
“I’m going in to see if there’s anything new and hot I didn’t see last market for fill-ins and later deliveries. I’m already bought for January, February and March. I’ll do some warmer weather things like shorts, sleeveless tops and capri pants. I’m also doing accessories for spring — that will be my big deal. I’m going to look for a bunch of new lines. I joined the company in August and I had to get rid of so much jewelry, so I will start over.
“I’ll probably spend about 25 percent more than last year, because they’ve never really done a lot of advertising, so I’m going to move into that. All of these young people have moved into Uptown right down the street from us, so I think there is a huge market there. I’ll advertise in Paper City, and we’ll even do a couple of billboards to get our name out there.
“I’m bringing in some new lines, like ABS, Urchin and Sanctuary. I’ll continue with Poleci, Vivienne Tam, Nicole Miller, Parallel, Earl Jean and Tark, but the store will be a lot more diversified. We’ll still have high-priced contemporary lines plus some casual, more moderately priced things, so every shirt is not $500.”

Molly Broeren, owner, Molly’s of Denver, Denver, Colo.
“I do a lot of collection buying in New York in February, so I’ll focus on more summer and playful things in Dallas. I need mostly jewelry and purses. I’ve done really well with pillows and silk photo albums from Amenities by Cynthia Espey. Scarves are always a number one accessory, and I also need more little purses — I love clutches. A jewelry line I’ll buy again is Diane Katzman — that did really well for me and is almost gone. I don’t buy a lot of jewelry because my customers mostly own real jewelry. But I do buy knockoffs by Carolee and Lordane because they look like [Steven] Lagos and [David] Yurman.
“We are even with last year for December, and up for the year by about 15 percent overall. My business is not as good in the spring as it is in the fall. We’ve had a really cold winter, colder than in three or four years, and our cashmere sales are way up.
“We have such a booming economy here. I don’t know if it’s high tech, real estate or oil, but our customers have bought things that they wanted, instead of needed. It has been a pleasure to be in retail in 2000.”

Jackie Hoegger, owner, Vive Paris, Wichita Falls and Colleyville, Tex.:
“I’m looking for something that looks like leather and suede, but is very lightweight. For July, I’m looking for transitional fabrics that can carry through September, when it’s still over 100 degrees.
“I’m looking for items, because it’s been very item-driven this past year, and they are even buying items through the Christmas season. We are always looking for beautiful layering pieces — nice knits in soft fabrics, like Cyrus and BCBG [make]. We look for things that can be thrown on with a pair or jeans or a great black skirt — things that mix and match.
“I also want funky, with-it shoes. Footwear is so much fun. I also think the manufacturers are doing an incredible job of coming up with neat “disposable” shoes — shoes that you wear one season because next year, it could be a whole new story. My key lines are Donald Pliner, Shannon Diego, Brighton, Vis a Vie, Naked Feet and BCBG.
“Business is really good because we have customers who are so loyal to us. I honestly think our service is what gives us those small increases every year, because my sales staff is on the phone with [customers] every single day. If you are not fighting hard, you won’t get increases, I can tell you. We are buying for our best customers, and we know immediately when things come in to call so-and-so.
“We pulled out a four percent increase [in 2000], and I feel grateful for that. So I’ll increase my buy by a few percentage points. It’s been a cold fall — yea! That’s good. People thought they might need sweaters and a leather jacket again. It snowed this year in October for the first time in years. Our customers get all excited about cold weather. Last year, they went shopping in T-shirts after Thanksgiving and this year, they wore coats.
“Once Christmas Day is over, the female customer all of a sudden changes gears. She wants fresh and new and different. Even though we are running sales in January, my regulars are coming in for the best of spring and summer.
“Our accessories business is huge — chain and rhinestone belts are big for us, and purses of all shapes and sizes. Women are buying 10 handbags a year instead of two because they are so much fun. We are buying everything that is shaped different and looks different. Every Christiana handbag we get flies out the door — everything from paillettes to beads to feathers, and square and triangular shapes. The new Hype handbags have been phenomenal. Women are changing handbags again to match their outfits, and that’s exciting. It’s not just from winter to summer handbags — they are changing them to match whatever they’re wearing.
“We have never missed a Dallas market in 17 years, [plus] we go to New York market and the Vegas shoe show. We are out there a lot to trend-watch and stay up on things. “We cover every hot item and every hot look in Wichita Falls. Some of our keys lines are Laundry, BCBG and Garfield & Marks. Wichita Falls, even though it’s 108,000 people, is a very fashion-forward town. People are looking at the magazines and reading InStyle from cover to cover.”

Vickey Hoffman, owner, J. Hoffman in Lubbock, Tex.:
“We’ll be looking for something new happening in the accessories department. We need to see what the hot thing out there is — that new hot accessory — and we’re still looking for something new in novelty shoes. I’m also looking for cutting-edge whatever it may be — tops or pants. I’m still needing items and any new fabric or length that our customer doesn’t already have in her closet.
“We’ll definitely be looking for dresses, for everything from day to evening and church. There is a big void there. We’ll also see all the new Brighton accessories and their handbags. We’re eager to see their new line for 2001. That’s one of our major resources.”

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