Stores were looking for leather jackets like this one from Reuma. / Accessories were on buyers’ lists.
ACCESSORIES SHINE AT STYLE INDUSTRIE
Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg
NEW YORK — In a move that reflected the continued interest in accessories, several retailers at last week’s Style Industrie trade show said they were more interested in finding jewelry and handbags than sportswear — the usual main attraction at the show.
Buyers at the event, which closed Feb. 29 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, were looking for bags, bracelets and necklaces to bolster spring and summer business. Some stores suggested last season’s powerful pashmina business prompted them to focus more on the category.
Unlike sportswear, which generally requires intensive planning, accessories buys are more impulsive, retailers said.
“Women are always tempted by some little piece of jewelry,” said Joy Coyne, co-owner of Coyne’s at the Red Barn, a 2,400-square-foot store in Woodbridge, N.J. “Often, shoppers will come in for one thing and get another, as well.”
She and her husband, Edwardene Coyne, reported sales are 5 percent ahead of last year, due to their ability to develop a solid accessories business.
Scarves, necklaces and bracelets were some of the items they were looking for.
Kei Masako Hirano, a consultant for Agete, a 40-store chain based in Tokyo, and Mina Kokubo, leader of its product team, said they were only shopping for accessories. Bracelets, earrings and necklaces, especially those in silver or beads, are “very popular” in Japan, they said.
“The Japanese consumer now likes a basic outfit with decorative accessories,” Hirano said.
In terms of sportswear, the four-day show offered lots of fall looks, but buyers said they were focusing on immediate deliveries to accommodate their shoppers who are still buying closer to need.
Claire Halperin and Gloria Rosenfeld, the owners of What to Wear, a two-store operation in Milburn, N.J., said they were shopping primarily for accessories and key items.
The two were keying into styles that aren’t “mall looks” such as capri pants, long skirts and sweaters. They don’t do shirts unless they have a distinctive look.
“We have to give her a reason to buy something different,” Halperin said.
Randi Kombert Grann, owner of two specialty stores called Temptations For Her, located in Merrick and Oceanside, N.Y., said she was also looking for special items. “Everything is item-driven,” she said. “Suits are not an important category right now.” Pants, especially slim styles with ankle slits and leather jackets, were high on her checklist. As long as they look good and feel good,” they will spend close to $300 for an item, but “fit is most important,” she said.
Jade Thornton, owner of Looking Pretty, a 5,000-square-foot store in Catskill, N.Y., who was shopping at the Avalon accessories booth with her daughter Rebecca, said, “We’re looking mainly for accessories — pocketbooks, silk scarves, pashmina and sparkly bracelets. Most of the clothing here is running too small for my customers.”
Despite the retailer’s 5 percent decline in overall sales compared with last year, she said, “I’m still buying accessories.”
Sweaters, handbags and straw bags were high on the list for Maud Robertson, owner of Bedlam, a specialty store in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. With more women shopping closer to need than they were a year ago, she was primarily looking for immediate goods. “We’re looking for anything that might be different,” Robertson said.
B.K. Hamburg and Angel Design were two lines she checked out. Her show budget was up since sales have increased by 5 percent compared with a year ago.
Verna-Maria Merkel, who plans to open Pickfin, a 300-square-foot boutique in Westhampton, N.Y., in April, said she was in the market for long skirts, crocheted leather items, jackets and knitwear outfits. Having run a store in Locust Valley, N.Y., for seven years, she said the average purchase in her new store is expected to be about $350.
Blue Duck and Aldo Studio were two of her favorite lines at the show for immediate and fall merchandise. Merkel said she particularly liked a crocheted leather jacket with fox trim and a coordinating skirt from Aldo.
With plans to open a specialty store in North Kingston, R.I., this spring, Rosemary Pariseault said she was shopping the show for “upscale, trendy” earrings, bags and pocketbooks. Maurizio Spataro, Maggie White and Reuma Sachs were a few of her key resources at the show. Pariseault aimed to find bags that retailed for $100 or less and earrings that were $50 or less.