FROM COCO TO COWGIRL
JUNIOR ACCESSORIES RUN THE GAMUT FROM RHINESTONE-STUDDED RODEO CHIC TO GIRLY PEARLS, CHANEL STYLE.
Byline: Marc Karimzadeh
Juniors are currently on a break from the late Seventies disco-era accessories that have been around for a few seasons.
But they haven’t stopped their trip down memory lane. Many are toying with a mixture of Western American and Forties ladylike looks with references ranging from Mae West to Coco Chanel.
This latest direction is partly a result of the continuing influence of ready-to-wear designers and the media spotlight on juniors. Such designers as Miuccia Prada and Michael Kors explored the Park Avenue princess look extensively last year, and the much-copied fashion trend is now beginning to filter through the other markets. This means a resurgence of faux pearl strands in a variety of colors for various classifications, rhinestone bracelets and necklaces, pins and sophisticated English prints such as plaids and argyles.
In addition to ladylike fashions, Madonna’s latest cowgirl incarnation is beginning to influence the junior wardrobe. Popular styles include cowboy hats and large belts with rhinestone buckles.
One of the key trends this season continues to be color. Vendors said accessories shouting with brightness will generate buzz among juniors. Unlike last fall, however, color is no longer about yellow gold. According to some industry executives, the mediocre success of yellow gold last season confirmed that juniors are likelier to jump on brights such as the pinks and ice blues dominating the color palette this season.
At OK Originals, color continues to be the major trend. “We are still throwing some gold in, but [it’s] not 100 percent,” said Joyce Kaplan, the firm’s president.
Kaplan added that although there is still some interest in the yellow gold look among juniors for belts and link bracelets, the overall move is toward bright colors. OK is currently successful with its offering of bright enameled hoop bracelets.
One of the key emerging trends now is pearls. At OK originals, expected bestsellers include strands of faux pearls mixed with aluminum in a variety of colors such as purple, pink and orange. Some pearl necklaces are offered with stretch elastic bracelets and plastic faceted beads.
Pearls are also a major theme at junior accessories firm Faith Knight.
“Every seven years, [vendors] run out of things to do,” said Faith Knight, the line’s owner and designer, adding, “Then pearls come back; it’s like a cycle.”
At Faith Knight, pearls are particularly popular for bracelets, necklaces, earrings, lariats and anklets. The designer said that they have a gold or platinum-like finish, with a hint of color in either pale blue or pink.
Alongside pearls, Knight has also recently expanded into gift accessories. Her line includes room accessories such as whimsical trash cans, staplers and zebra print brooms.
At Fad Treasures, color is the main trend this season.
“You need sunglasses in my booth, that’s how bright it is,” said Donna Axelowitz, Fad Treasures’ designer.
Current favorites include a variety of pooka shells that are woven together for necklaces and bracelets. Fad Treasures had introduced the look last season, and based on its success, the firm is expanding the line with dyed shells this season. Colors include pastels such as pink, lavender, light blue and apricot.
While the last season was mostly about late Seventies disco looks, this year will see a growing interest in early-Eighties chic among juniors.
“All the stud belts were hot then. That seems to be working now,” Axelowitz said.
For inspiration, Fad Treasures is now looking to the rave scene for future seasons. “[They] seem to be a group that’s hot right now,” said Axelowitz. “They’re influencing accessories, and they’re into brights.”
While Native Americana, with its surplus of beaded and feathered looks, has been a popular trend among juniors for a while now, some vendors noted the trend is now on the wane.
“There is no Americana for fall,” said Gurnan. “Instead, it’s going more European, and specifically British, with plaids and argyles.”
Definitions is offering a variety of argyles employing different weaving techniques. Beyond the preppy English influence, Definitions is extending its offerings of crystal tattoos that found a following among juniors last year.
For spring, the firm is developing tattoos with beads instead of crystals for novelty.
“We are trying to give [them] a better look,” he said.
While many said the early Eighties look in general is currently influencing the junior wardrobe, Gurnan noted its punk era in particular is driving junior accessories. Definitions is offering mirrored bags and bangles in metallic colors, including some yellow-gold tones, and bangles embellished with Swarovski crystals.
While color continues to be a main feature for Definitions, the firm is beginning to explore black-and-white combinations, which Gurnan said will be a growing trend in seasons to come.
Junior accessories often take their cue from media celebrities. The resurgence of youth pop icons like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera in particular has driven many accessories trends in the past two years.
“The media totally influences what juniors want,” said Deborah Gregorich, key account manager at headwear vendor Northern Cap Manufacturing. Gregorich pointed to Madonna’s cowgirl chic in her video for “Music” as a particular influence. Hats, long a slow classification in accessories, have made a strong comeback, and Gregorich said they will remain strong in seasons to come. She also predicts a panoply of hat shapes, including some with more extreme crowns.
Madonna’s cowgirl incarnation has also helped speed along the heretofore slow return of the belt classification, which is now back in full swing.
“We are doing a lot of western-style belts with rhinestones and army surplus-style belts,” said Dale Schultz, sales manager at Lounge Fly, who added that the belts in demand are either leather, bonded leather, imitation leather or with a camouflage print.
“You still get people who say they don’t wear belts,” they said. “But hopefully, we’ll be right on target.”
Bracelets have been popular with juniors for a while, and many vendors have been predicting their imminent downturn. Nonetheless, vendors are still seeing growth in the classification this season.
“One of the hot items we are expecting is the stretchy rhinestone bracelet,” said Garold Miller, chief executive officer of accessories firm Friends Incorporated, adding that its appeal stems from the fact that it is “a totally different look from power bracelets.” Other popular styles include cufflink bracelets, which feature a wide fabric cuff embellished with beads, little mirrors and sequins for a colorful and bright effect, Miller said.
Like some of the other vendors at MAGIC, Friends Inc. also continues to expand on crystal tattoos. This season, crystal tattoos will spell out words such as “kiss” and “love,” as well as come in heart shapes.