NEW YORK — Accessories cloaked themselves in dark motifs for fall, but didn’t reflect the overall business mood of vendors and buyers during this month’s market.
Vendors said they were confidant about the coming season, anticipating 10 to 15 percent sales increases, despite a split in the trade show calendar that resulted in D&A Annex and Accessorie Circuit being held one week earlier than AccessoriesTheShow and showroom market. Some vendors cited concerns about what they said was an absence of jewelry and other accoutrements on the runways, as well as higher gas, gold and silver prices, but they said they see no signs that the buoyant accessories bubble will soon burst.
“Most of our vendors weren’t pleased going into this that it was a split market,” said Britton Jones, president and chief executive officer of Business Journals Inc., which produces AccessoriesTheShow. “We were so relieved in the end that we drew the traffic, and, in fact, visitor traffic was up 15 percent over last year at this time.”
AccessoriesTheShow, which was held with Fame and Moda Manhattan at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here from May 7-9, reported 8,000 buyers walking the floors by the end of Monday, the show’s second day. Final exhibitor and attendance figures were not available at press time. At D&A Annex, held from April 29 to May 1 at the Starrett-Lehigh Building and featuring 123 companies in 76 booths, visitor traffic increased to 759 from last year’s 610. Attendance at Accessorie Circuit, held at the Show Piers from April 30 to May 2, had a slight drop of 3 percent from last year. Total exhibitor and attendance figures were not available at press time.
Elizabeth Kanfer, fashion market director at Saks Fifth Avenue, said the split market wasn’t a problem for the New York-based department store retailer, which bought into the Eighties trend, including soft handbags that have a little more structure and cleaner styling, and jewelry that has Gothic-inspired gunmetal treatments and skull, heart and key accents.
“There wasn’t a lot of accessories on the runways for fall, but accessories have been such an important classification for so many seasons now that we only see it continuing,” Kanfer said. “Also, in ready-to-wear, everything is so Eighties, and we think the customer is going to pair that look with these types of items.”
Maria Marchese, handbag buyer for Plaza Too, an accessories store with eight locations throughout New York and Connecticut, said she was a little hesitant to buy heavily into the Eighties trend, but found resources that spoke to the aesthetic more subtly.
“If you’re really trendy, you’ll go for all those skulls,” said Marchese. “But we were looking for items that carried that message in a more cutesy way. Also, we’re trying to find handbags in the $300 price point, which is hard to find right now.”
Stacey Pecor, president of Olive & Bette’s, with four boutiques here and a Web site, said she increased her buy for fall by about 15 percent, and she noted that long necklaces and belts continue to be important.
“Our accessories business is good,” Pecor said. “For April, we were up 7 percent over our goal, and I think fall is going to be even better, because there is newness, like waist belts that are cleaned up.”
Janet Goldman, ceo and founder of Fragments, a New York-based jewelry and accessories showroom that exhibits at Accessorie Circuit, attributed the split in the show schedule to what she perceived as slower traffic. She added, however, that many of her lines, like Mizuki and Dana Kellin, were seeing new customers and writing larger orders.
“We always have an ambitious plan, but traffic was slower this year,” Goldman said. “It’s hard to have a 10-day market. Most buyers can’t afford it, and many need to be in their stores near Mother’s Day. However, the good thing about the show is that there were maybe 75 percent return customers and then 25 percent new customers.”
Goldman said gold was trending despite the higher prices, and long necklaces, long earrings with lots of movement, hoops, charms, black pearls and looks featuring mixed metals were bestsellers.
In addition to slightly more structured handbags, Gothic-inspired jewelry and belts, legwear emerged as an important item.
“This is the best show we’ve ever had,” said John Flynn, vice president of sales for Brooklyn-based Infinity Classics, which exhibited its Levante, Jonathan Aston and Me Moi legwear brands at AccessoriesTheShow. “I’m attributing it to a combination of things. First, the legwear market is on fire, but also we have a wide selection. We have people coming in with much bigger buys, and independent boutiques are once again writing sizable orders.”
Flynn said sales at Levante were up 25 percent from last year, while Jonathan Aston, a British brand that began retailing in the U.S. for the first time last fall, increased its sales by 50 percent. Cashmere-blend solid tights and an allover paisley print were bestsellers.
“There is still a lot of money out there, and people are still spending it on accessories,” said Cynthia O’Connor, president of the New York-based Cynthia O’Connor & Co. showroom, which exhibited at Accessorie Circuit and carries resources such as Kooba, Gustto, Botkier and Tocca. “There’s now so much great talent in the accessories category — more than ever before — and as long as you’re serving up great product, people will buy it.”