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Archive for November, 2008...

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FACED WITH REDUCED BUSINESS and a bleak financial outlook nationally, most retailers are straining to find new ways of bringing in customers and making sales. That is to say, all but a few like Wal-Mart, who seem to thrive in tough times. 


“This is the kind of environment that Walton built this company for,” declared President and CEO H. Lee Scott. While his statement might grate on the majority (Scott claims he doesn’t want to gloat) it’s worth paying attention to, mainly to find out how Wal-Mart is doing it.


Some basics apparently apply.  Wal-Mart brags that it has a highly disciplined management team, a conservative balance sheet, more stable financial well being, and     strong inventory management.  But, mainly, Scott insists that the company has “the best prices in the marketplace.”


  • Buying wholesale clearance items can help you play this game effectively.  The less you pay, the lower you can price and still turn a profit.


DESPITE THE BROUHAHA, Wal-Mart is restructuring its business priorities to deal with the financial crisis.  Among other things, the company is scaling back building new mega-stores, investing more in existing outlets. Private brand portfolios are being expanded and new brands that offer higher value are being sought out. 


  • Presenting your store as a “brand” itself is another effective promotional tool.  Retailers in general suggest having your name imprinted on bags and tags put on sales items.  This is a critical time to build your store name and connect it to a value concept.


Wal-Mart has also extended its Christmas store hours dramatically.  Get up and out by 5 A.M. and you’ll catch some hot Wal-Mart offerings. Other Wal-Mart ideas for selling include creation of a Hot Spot fast-turn merchandising area, where the firm celebrates a holiday like Christmas or the launching of a new brand. Another:  a junior’s Gifts-To-Go section, debuting in January.


Wal-Mart has also decreased its SKUs in order to focus on and make a clear statement about fewer special items.  “We’re also committed to investing in growth categories, like denim,” an executive noted.


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WHILE J.C. PENNEY CO. IS EXPERIENCING difficult times – third quarter profits fell a whopping 52.5 percent – its management maintains a positive outlook with emphasis on value, affordable products, and greater shopping convenience.   For Christmas, President Ken Hicks believes customers will be spending on more practical gifts, and less on novelty.  Like Wal-Mart, Penney is putting major importance on private brands, on lifting the level of style and on offering better value.  


  • According to the National Retail Federation, while fewer dollars may be spent on large, expensive items this Christmas, sales will still be made in gifts such as DVDs and CDs, toys and jewelry.


Pulling together a collection of products they think will sell well, Penney has created a new Red Box display assortment of 60 items priced from $19 to $100. The Red Box contains edgy gift items (talking robots, and Einstein telescopes) and is centrally located in each store for fast selling action.  The Red Box areas will stay up until a few weeks after Christmas.


  • Creating your own version of a Red Box area can increase sales.  For Christmas, choose items that are moderately priced, and that will make good gift purchases. Gift wrapping the items is a big sales plus!

Think about what is attractive, affordable, and useful for your “red box”.  Scarf, hat, and glove sets fit the picture with cold weather of the Christmas season. 


Penney is also adding more Associates to help customers learn about products.  And, it is expanding its e-mailing operations. Its marketing budget is likewise being restructured, with fewer dollars going to network and catalog ads, and more to local TV, mobile and direct mail.  The firm also runs ads in local theaters where family films are shown. 


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MOST RETAILERS SAY they are watching their inventories closely and while they may be buying less in general; they are still buying “interesting items.” Even normally high- priced stores admit they are scaling back on luxury and buying popular priced products.  As one retailer put it, many consumers are beginning to question designer fashion.  They find a $6,000 handbag gauche.”


  • Retailers are also looking for merchandise that visually communicates value, and looks like it will last a considerable length of time.  They are also looking for products that have more than just one season of selling value. Seasonless is the new fashion retailing mantra. 

Need some ideas?  Gemstone fashion jewelry has the look of intrinsic value and will certainly sell through next spring.  Rhinestone jewelry is a wonderful gift that is immediately useful for New Year’s Eve, but rhinestone will see its peak season for bridal, pageant, and prom following Christmas. 


Retailers in general say it is essential during tough times to have a deep understanding of who your customer is; otherwise, you won’t be able to buy with accuracy. Knowing what your customers want is key.


  • Customers are also willing to spend on extraordinary pieces, things that make a statement.  Lily Hamrah, owner of a designer boutique in New Jersey, has hit on a dynamite idea for selling during this bleak period.  She has instituted a private charge card (that can only be used at her store) with a rewards program.  Customers receive $20 for every $1,000 spent, and the response has been phenomenal. “It’s a private card,” Hamrah says, “so husbands don’t see it.”


Valerie Feigen, co-owner of a New York boutique, says customers are putting more thought into their purchases.  They want quality and value for their dollars.  More care and less impromptu buying is also going into jewelry purchases.


  • Rather than buying generally attractive pieces, customers look for a special single item to go with a particular piece of clothing. 


Customer service is high on the sales-building agendas. One retailer is sending items to customers’ homes for approval. Free delivery is also big. Another retailer emphasizes multiple-use items, and is teaching customers how to wear apparel and jewelry in several different ways. “People have just so much money to spend, and this extends the value of their buying dollars.”  


Customers are also more willing to spend money with retailers they feel they can trust.  “You have to be scrupulously honest,” one retailer said. “If an item isn’t right for the customer, say so.”

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, November 28th, 2008

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LIELA MOSS IS THE LEAD SINGER for the hot underground rock ‘n’ roll band, The Duke Spirit; more importantly for us, she is rapidly becoming a major teen icon  for clothing and accessories.  To start with, the sultry blonde Moss is the inspiration for a new Target collection by European couturier Alexander McQueen, representing the designer’s first foray into the mass market.


Until now, McQueen’s clothing has sold for thousands of dollars and up; the Moss-divined Target collection will have price tags under $130.00, a big difference.


But…just take a look at the looks Moss is known for:  casually wild, sizzling with a kind of rock ‘n’ roll punk vibe. She wears plenty of black, from tight satin jumpsuits to black T’s, boots, and denim pants.


  • Moss wears jewelry with ease; interesting, moderately-sized pieces that tend to accentuate her clothing without overwhelming.  It is a good looking mix.  In one photo shoot, she wears a red fabric flower pin with a blue T and pants, and bright red super-high spike shoes. 


In a new black and white silk-screen cotton jersey T-shirt for McQueen (featuring her face in big, bold portraiture), she wears a medium length black beaded necklace with organic-looking black stones hanging off. A ring worn on the middle finger is simple, wide, silver. 


A favorite piece that she is often seen wearing is a double strand gold chain necklace with a diamond crown pendant.  Very aristocratic, if not royal!  The fascinating thing about a lot of this jewelry is that it works beautifully while she’s working with her rock ‘n’ roll compatriots (The Duke Spirit is a British band that mixes noise rock with grunge) but also can go almost anywhere with many different fashion styles.  . 


The Moss collection for Target – called McQ Alexander McQueen for Target — is part of the retailer’s new Designer Collaborations program.  It will be an ongoing initiative and will bring a number of top-level fashion designers to the general public with

fashions set at reasonably low prices.  Each designer participant has been asked to take inspiration from a muse, a creative element, or a collaborative partner.


  • McQueen sees his muse-choice as more than a Brit.  “She (Moss) is great looking girl and has a personal style.  It falls into the idea of the New York underground music scene,” he says, explaining that he chose Moss because of the “atmosphere she portrays.”


An exciting collection that is certain to be sought after by young people, McQueen uses black, white, grey and tan in most of the pieces, accentuated by cobalt blue and hot pink. The pieces are edgy, spiked up with studs and sexy black mesh. 


One dress centers on a terrific wide black belt.  A sleeveless T-shirt features images of The Duke Spirit. Aiming at attracting a younger crowd to Target’s fashion, McQueen says his new clothes are about the fashion scene and the music scene in the East End of London, where he lives. 


  • Moss likes a “tailored, sharp silhouette; like a great tailored blazer.” She says. “I like to pick really simple pieces that, when you wear them with jeans and jewelry, they just pop.”


Want to exploit some of that fast-moving underground style yourself?  Think mixes, especially grunge or punk with sexy casual denim-wear.  Add in some biker styles, especially handbags and over-jackets with studs. Get into the mood of it.  As McQueen says:


  • “It’s about a feeling.”


Stay with black; it crosses over high fashion and tough, young, even angry elements.  Keep things slightly off-center, a little different from the traditional or norm.  Put rings on center or index fingers.  Ride bracelets high up the arm, Middle-Eastern style.  Go with silver, especially tooled silver, in bracelets and rings. 



Forget about button earrings; make your choices from pieces that are dangling and modern. Include necklaces with everything.  Size them moderate to big, and color them dark and dangerous-looking.  That’s the idea!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

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WHEN THE 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES takes office January 20th, he will assume a tradition that has existed through all administrations since President Washington:  that of signing bills into law using a very special pen. From quills to ball points, the writing instruments used to sign national documents have been prized and preserved as federal collectibles.


A quill pen was used by John Hancock and other signers of the American Declaration of Independence.  President Lincoln used a quill pen, as well, to sign the 13th Amendment into law, freeing the slaves and outlawing slavery in the nation.  In more recent times, fountain pens have been used to sign treaties and armistices. In an entertaining Presidential hi-jinx, “Give ‘em hell, Harry” passed out boxes of ball point pens engraved “I swiped this from Harry S. Truman.”


 Pens do more than just write; they write history.


 The story of writing pens goes back 6,000 years to when the cave man used sharpened stones to make pictures on cave walls.  The ancient Greeks wrote with a metal, bone, or ivory stylus.  Romans used a reed-pen for writing. Around 700 A.D., quill pens came into use, some beautiful, but most of them ungainly instruments made from bird feathers.  The word pen is in fact taken from the Latin penna, meaning  feather of a bird.


Quills continued in use until 1884, when L.E. Waterman introduced the first fountain pen. This was a remarkable advance in writing, and launched a wave of new pen enthusiasm. Buyers were enthralled with the new instrument that allowed them to smoothly write an entire page without having to touch an ink bottle. The art of writing was likewise enhanced, and “having a good hand,” or being able to write with flair and elegance became an envied talent. 


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BUT THEN, IN 1944, came another major writing revolution.  The ball point pen was introduced and with it the passion for writing soared.  This was smooth, comfortable, easy writing! So easy, in fact, that for some time, many traditionalists completely  eschewed it, clinging instead to the old pen-and-ink writing habit. 


Notwithstanding that pocket of snobbery, the sale of ball pens really took off. All types of ball pens were rushed onto the market, running from promotional pens selling for just a few cents each, to luxury pens with price tags comfortably in four digits. Pens also captured the consumer’s imagination, and were frequently valued far beyond their price tag.  Men carefully clipped a pen to their shirt pockets.  Women squirreled them neatly away in handbags.


               Today, practically everyone carries a pen, and owns several.


PENS ARE STATUS ITEMS.  People increasingly seek out pens that are well designed with an attractive casing they can show off.  Both men’s and women’s pens are big sellers in office supply stores, as well as small boutiques and department stores. Designer pens offer new designs and embellishments, giving a heightened level of beauty and personality to the basic writing instrument.


Gold pens raise eyebrows.  Silver pens attract quiet admiration.  Pewter pens are sophisticated and chic. There are even specialty stores originally established for the exclusive purveyance of fine (and often very expensive) writing instruments.  And even today, when the computer and the IPod have taken over so many routine data jobs, the pen is still a favored, important personal accessory.


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CONSIDER A PEWTER PEN with a tulip sculptured design, beautifully boxed in a velvet case. It makes an appreciated gift for anyone. This is just one of numerous nature-oriented pens picking up on the high popularity of nature themes. 




Customers will also be attracted to a “best friend and flowers” theme, while enthusiasts of tropical climes will find a bamboo designed pewter pen a delight to carry and use, bringing with it floral images of the spectacular South Pacific. Just about everyone will value an attractive, classic flowering vine designed pen.


These high caliber writing instruments come in a wide variety of themes to fit many interests.  Fishermen will find the sea life design highly desirable, and golfers will delight in pen designs that feature golf bags, clubs, balls, etc  


Amateur and professional astronomers and astrologers will appreciate pens with celestial themes portrayed on the casing, with the sun, moon, and stars handsomely crafted in pewter.  And how about academics?  A fun alphabet writing pen is a natural for them! 



One of the most intriguing designs – and one that will surely capture the interest of those with a taste for Far East art and mystery – is a sculptured writing pen featuring a spit-fire dragon asserting his timeless power and charisma. This pen is an adventure unto itself!



We invariably take pens for granted and, while we may be particular about their functional qualities – comfortable feel in the hand, smooth writing, easy movement — we often overlook the marvels of the pen itself. 


Pens have been around on this planet almost as long as mankind has existed.


And that is incredible!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

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SOUTHERN CHARM:  Visually interesting accessories took center stage at the recent Spring 2009 Market in Atlanta. Among the strong items for spring were citrus colors, shorter tunic jackets and many, many dresses. 


Buying, however, was significantly below expectations, and one exhibitor commented that “The economy is no longer just affecting the Wal-Mart shopper. Wealthy consumers are not buying.”  Despite the financial squeeze, however, orders were still being written, especially for jewelry and accessories. Overall, the consensus was that the market was “good.”


One retailer said she is cultivating customers who are still buying, specifically professional career women.  She said she is working harder with events, trunk shows for executives, and networking parties. 


Another retailer who caters to an older female customer, specifically 45 years and up, said, “The economy hasn’t had as large an effect on our customer.  They can’t find our type of merchandise anywhere else in the area.” 


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FABULOUS CALVIN:  Brilliant sunset colors of red, orange and yellow in sportswear, dresses, and accessories enlivened the latest Calvin Klein fashion exposition for Spring.  Vintage and distressed denims were hot, as were tie-dyed tops, graphic-print gowns, and minimal, sexy frocks.  A master designer, Klein used plenty of nickel hardware and top stitching in his latest collection, all of which dazzled with typical CK-sophistication. 


  • A rich assortment of accessories added to the show’s vitality.  You can get the CK look by centering on medium-sized red patent leather clutch bags, and small gold-metallic bags; interesting gold-band rings (wear them, CK-style, on the middle finger); and white leather banded watches (worn again, CK-style, half-way up the forearm). Look for shoes that are metallic and shiny, and don’t forget the ever-present big dark sunglasses!  


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MILAN IN BEIJING:  Donatella Versace was her usual exuberant self at her recent charity fashion show in Beijing.  Recreating her Milan runway show in the Chinese capital, Versace raised over $100,000 for earthquake victims in the muddy, remote mountains in Sichuan Province.


The Beijing Show had the same black and white set as in Milan, but used only Chinese models resulting in a uniquely Asian look. Dresses were western:  mini skirts, minimal little sheaths with interesting embroideries and other applications. 


  • Accessories included a small Judith Leiber-like gold wallet-bag, deep golden cuffs, and those Hollywood inspired big black sunglasses everyone so adores.


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NEW DIRECTIVES:  Look to new fiber and yarn introductions for an idea of where the apparel and accessories markets are headed!  At the latest Filo Fair in Milan, organic, recyclable and novelty yarns played a high note.  Metallic yarns in matte shades were very important.


  • Look for metallic fabrics and metallic jewelry and accessories to further the look!  


Sales Manager Massimo Colombo of Filatura di Pollone said that purple is the dominating color for spring, “with added filaments to give the yarns a brighter effect.”

He also noted that seasonless yarns are in strong demand.  “Anything heavy, chunky or coarse is not popular,” he declared.  Buyers are looking for cashmere and cotton mixes that can be worn in summer or winter.


  • Seasonless fashion is unquestionably the wave of the future.  Look for clothing and accessories that can bridge the seasons with ease; they will surely be the biggest sellers! You might refer to them as the new “basics.”  What are we talking about?  Patent leather handbags, that used to be summer-oriented only, now go comfortably into all the months of the year. Sunglasses are likewise red hot and year-round popular.


Among the significant new collections at Filo was a yarn grouping called Ecotech.  This is a certified organic yarn composed of recycled cotton and new fibers such as acrylic, bamboo, and cotton.  Health-harming substances are eliminated during processing.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, November 24th, 2008

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THE FASHIONABLE LADIES OF PALM BEACH wear some of the most exquisite and expensive clothing and accessories around, but there’s no reason to feel less than equal to their style and flair. Anyone can get the look and feel of Palm Beach just by paying attention to what is being worn and well, shall we say…copying it


It’s The Look, after all, that we want; it doesn’t require a line-for-line hit on any one item.  Don’t forget:  What is being worn in Palm Beach today (and on Rodeo Drive and Park Avenue) will be on Main Street tomorrow.  Maybe even sooner.  Trends move fast.  Fashion moves fast. That’s part of the excitement!


Speaking to the Palm Beach Post, Rachel Clark, a former Palm Beach resident and now a New York high fashion model, says whenever she thinks of Palm Beach, “A vacation feel always comes to mind.” 

  • n She thinks of the town’s fashion as “a bit more relaxed and a lot less black.”

 Among her favorite accessories:  a single long necklace and diamond stud earrings.  Her favorite designers are John Galliano for his eccentric personal style and Alexander Wang, “A very cool and laid-back guy.”    


–Clark may wear diamonds, but you don’t need them with these fabulous fakes:  Choose between large emerald cut Cubic Zirconia earrings or equally large oval CZs.  Set in silver-tone metal, they have the look of platinum, the style of the very rich.

–For a more conservative approach to the world of wealth, try petite CZ earrings.  Sized at 3.5 mm with silver-tone Tiffany setting, these USA-made beauties guarantee immediate acceptance at any social soiree. 


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DOUGLAS HANNANT, A MAJOR DESIGNER on the New York-to-Palm Beach circuit, sees Palm Beach as “very easy, casual elegance by day.  By night, it’s very extravagant; it’s really the last place you can go where people still dress for dinner.”  His latest resort collection has an Eastern influence – the whole region, Asian, Indian – done in a very subtle way.  Hannant says he uses a lot of bright colors, but slightly off.  He also uses a lot of texture, which is especially hot this season. 


As featured in the Post, Hannant’s colors show the “idea of nuances, very definite mixes of textures, very subtle colors, somewhat pastel but not your typical pastel, muted, more washed-out and matte.” 

  • n Hannant says that when you work with such subtleties in color, the texture really comes out and you see it.”


–You can make use of color for a rich yet casual Palm Beach look with a handsome 4 strand floating bead necklace set in fabulous colors of amber, beige, and turquoise.  The beading is spaced on wire for a very updated look and runs a fashionable 19-inches long.  



–Taking inspiration from Hannant’s latest collection, look for jewelry with a global impact, such as a striking necklace featuring a large enameled India-Indian style pendant hanging from a colorful Lucite chain of deep baroque amber and turquoise beads set apart by tiny copper spacers.  This is dramatic!

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“EVERYONE IN PALM BEACH IS FASHIONABLE” says Jordann Miller, “but there are the people who are really trendy, and the people who are in couture, and then there’s the beach chic.”  She caters to the beach people, the ones who wear “dresses and sandals all year long.” 


After several years apprenticeship at Mimi Su and Cartier in New York City, Miller is returning to Palm Beach and launching her own jewelry collection.  Inspired by her favorite flowers – magnolias – the new jewelry features necklaces, rings and earrings in 14K gold, turquoise, silver, diamonds, and sterling silver. 

  • n Prices go up to $3,000, not exactly what you’d think of as “beach casual,” but then, this is Palm Beach.

Miller plans to eventually become a gemologist, and to be known for fine jewelry design.  


–Few themes give more refinement to jewelry than flowers. You can achieve the look with a floral motif rhinestone necklace featuring delicate, sparkling blossoms branching out from a center cascade.  The necklace runs 17″ and is adjustable.  Matching earrings are available in gold or silver plate. 

–A rich necklace in elegant floral vine motif is also ideal for comfortable Palm Beach dinners.  It’s fashionably floral, not too dressy, but not at all casual.



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PALM BEACH NATIVE SASAHA LICKLE is in love with shells. Her own line of jewelry uses shells from all over the world.  Necklaces, bracelets, and earrings feature gold plating on sand dollars, red delphinium shells, pink coral, and turquoise.  Lickle thinks of her line as “inexpensive,” or what we might call “Palm Beach cheap.” Items are priced mostly under $200.


Among her latest pieces:  Green limpet and green tusk earrings, a gold plated charm bracelet featuring nautical themes, like starfish, and a moderate-length green limpet and plated gold chain necklace.

  • n Shells and sea life naturally go together for a great beach look.


–Easy elegance is expressed with a long necklace set with shell.  The 40-inch long double layer necklace features shell beading spaced along a luxurious-looking silver-tone chain. Also available: matching drop earrings in handsome mother-of-pearl ovals. 

–Just right for society hob-nobbing is a black lip mother-of-pearl necklace.  Spans of black Bohemian glass and tiny faceted crystals space out iridescent grey freshwater pearls to form the basic necklace featuring a beautiful 2″ mother-of-pearl pendant.  Spectacular!


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VINTAGE JEWELRY IS HOT IN PALM BEACH!   The guru of vintage here is Tracy Smith, “so glamorously Palm Beach,” as the Post puts it, and owner of the House of Lavande, a vintage costume jewelry boutique with a host of international celebrities as clients.  “People love the idea of connecting vintage with Palm Beach,” she says.  Her store carries vintage pieces from all the top designers, from Kenneth Jay Lane to Schiaparelli and Yves St. Laurent.  


A fascinating new collection started by Smith this year is called Remnants, and is made up of pieces she creates by grouping several vintage necklaces together and attaching a single clasp to them.  Prices for this dynamic grouping start at $1,200. 


Among Smith’s favorite pieces with that super-rich Palm Beach feel:  A 1970’s Christian Lacroix cuff (her price: $900). Smith sees the cuff elegantly paired to gold earrings; A 1950s Henry Schreiner brooch (her price ($850).  She says you can stitch it to a barrette and wear it in your hair; A butterfly necklace ($850) by Rafael. It “just makes me happy.”

  • n Among her special store items are vintage Czech glass and crystal beaded necklaces from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.


–For a truly monied vintage look, consider a choker of square acrylic stones set in antique silver-plate, the stones barely distinguishable from crystal.  The necklace comes in a choice of four colors and has a remarkably real Victorian appearance.

–A gorgeous jet black beaded necklace looks like a treasured estate find.  This handsome piece features a square filigree beaded drop in antique silver plating hanging off rich black beads.  The necklace is available with matching earrings for a very updated vintage “set.”


–A multi-strand tiny Bohemian glass necklace in amber, gold and white mixed with bronze beads gives a dazzling, sophisticated and dressy look just right for winter celebrations in Palm Beach or New York.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

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TARGET IS FOCUSING on a new set of retailing initiatives to get through the present tough financial situation and make them well positioned to regain a hefty share of the market when the economy gets better. The plan is multi-faceted, but relies heavily on the firm’s “Expect More, Pay less” mantra that, according to Kathryn A. Tesija, executive vice president of merchandising, “has guided us through boom times and bad times.”


So far, Target has proven itself a master retailer, and there is no reason to doubt the new plan will do just what the doctor ordered to guide the mega store chain through the present rough waters.

                — Merchandisers at practically every level of the business have something to learn here.


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Tesija says that “in this economic climate, we are emphasizing the ‘Pay Less’ part of the company strategy.” One requisite: To make sure prices match those of their main competitor, Wal-Mart.  The company has also revised its weekly in-store advertising circular, using fewer products and larger images, all focused on lower prices. 


PROMOTIONAL TECHNIQUES have been revised.  For example, the number of endcaps that feature merchandise at lower prices has been significantly increased to show off the value items.


  • The way you buy can make a major difference in your promotional items.  Consider closeouts such as classic double row faux pearls spaced with fine link chain.  These exquisite, grey-toned pearls, which can be extended to 18 inches and will never go out of style, offer an ideal value-oriented merchandising opportunity.


Of course, price is not the total story.  Michael B. Francis, executive vice president of marketing, says that while customers are focused on price, he feels it is just as important to have an environment where people want to shop and where they can expect to get more at those lower prices. This not only maintains business, but helps build market share.


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WITH PRICE IN THE FOREFRONT of consumer consciousness, advertising has been revamped to communicate the value message. “We are being more explicit in terms of ‘Pay Less,'” Francis says. Now, three-fourths of the firm’s expenditures will be devoted to that position.  “And every vehicle we create will contain a bolder statement about Target’s value,” Francis admits.


The fall-off of sales at posh retailing emporiums is also affecting the way Target does business.  The firm is frankly running to pick up those disenchanted customers, telling them, “We have the same merchandise you’d find at Macy’s or Barney’s, New York.”  Except, of course, at lower prices. 


  • To attract the upscale customer, try creating a new category of better merchandise which you can offer at value prices.  For example, former customers of high-end stores will surely be attracted to classic style wholesale jewelry, especially with real gemstones. Consider a handsome tiger’s eye necklace of polished chips featuring a domed oval pendant framed in silver-plated flat wire, all adjustable to a fashionable 20″. Very sophisticated!  


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NEWNESS IS WHAT IS SELLING in Target stores now.  And, according to Francis, “Punctuating our stores with up and coming designers is effective.” One way of doing that is by featuring designers in print and circular advertising which underscores the designers’ own voices.  The same can be done with popular brands that have a value reputation.


An important merchandising concept for 2009 is the company’s “rebalancing theme.”  It involves finding new ways to drive traffic and emphasize value. 

               –“We’re still out there taking creative risks and taking opportunities.”


A recent campaign based on the traffic-driving strategy involved showing off essential items against a Dolly Parton vocal in the background.  A big name that communicates positive messages both directly and indirectly!  


  • You can do the same simply by playing music that conveys a positive message or feeling in your store. 


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TARGET IS ALSO INTEGRATING new product into its merchandising mix, with the idea of attracting customers it might not otherwise get. A major example is a grocery concept, now in its testing stage. Greg W. Steinhaffel, president and CEO, believes that  food customers make more store stops and spend four times more than non-food customers.  By adding food to the store’s merchandising mix, Target hopes to corral a bevy of new frequent buyers into the store.


  • Just adding a new and exciting product category to your store can effect the same positive business results.  For example, you might expand your business into high-profile caps, which are perennially popular best-sellers.  Modified military caps look great on men and women alike, and come in white, black and khaki. These great looking caps sell to all age categories.  Other terrific choices include “Level Headed” ball caps, and 3-D embroidered American Eagle ball caps.  Put in some of these items and just watch the action!   


ELECTRONIC WIZARDRY is also in Target’s going-forward strategy.  Its goal is to put the entire store online and to integrate mobile commerce into its retail plan. To drive traffic to the company’s website now, an on-line free shipping offer has been increased from 25- to 50,000 items. 


We can’t say enough about the importance of computer merchandising.  If you‘re not really computer literate, change your ways now.  This is the future and, like Target, you want to be in on it!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

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Imagine a line of wholesale fashion jewelry that is totally immune from changing fashion trends and totally immune from economic downturns.  Now let’s go a step further-imagine very few wholesalers supply it and very few retailers present it to consumers.  This is a dream product!


Now wake up from the dream because it’s real.  Most call it theme jewelry and the Cadillac is “Best Brand”.  Probably, most women in America have never seen the line and yet it has the quality that will be the future generations sought after vintage jewelry. 


Why is it immune from trends?  Because theme designs in Best Brand’s line appeal to the heart and not trend consciousness.  This fashion jewelry uses exquisite design and detail to provide immediate recognition in endless themes that go straight to a consumer’s interests.  Such superbly detailed themes magically open the door of emotion that overpowers heady decisions about fashion trends. 


The strength of the line is wholesale pendants with matching earrings.  Best Brand has a pendant and matching earrings for nearly any theme that comes to mind.  Themes as obscure as barrel racing take on life with such detail and realism the eye immediately recognizes it. 


What about Gospel singing?  There’s a pendant for that and, of course, matching earrings.  This wholesale jewelry line goes through almost every aspect of music with musical instruments and notes as well as themes in Jazz and Rock & Roll.  


Many hard to find themes populate the line like, teapots, gymnastics, cooking, and light houses as well as unique designs for more common themes like sports, sea life, flowers, pets, and animals.  But even in sports, less common themes find expression such as girl’s softball, hockey, and volleyball plus cute jewelry for cheerleaders. 


The range of pendants and earrings boggles the imagination-motorcycles, tractors, dance, occupations, inspirational, family, and animals and reptiles from swamp to safari.  If we haven’t hit a hot button yet, here’s more-pets, Seasonal jewelry, the Wild West, palm trees, birds, butterflies, ships, and pirates.  Can you think of something we haven’t mentioned?  It’s probably there. 


Yes, the themes are extensive, but the quality is just as exciting, carrying fashion jewelry to a new height.  Most pendants and earrings start with a thin sheet of steel stamped with raised relief that amazes with so much detail coming fro a single piece of metal.  Backs are sealed so the dimensionally raised pendants and earrings are hollow and light weight.  Next comes the finishing process with plating, antiqued recesses to bring out detail, and hand polishing.  Some pendants and earrings have color applied by hand.  The unbelievable factor-most wholesale under $5.00!


More proof that the Best Brand theme line is immune from fashion trends goes back to the mid-nineties when minimalism swept trends and fashion jewelry wholesalers and retailers alike were closing up shop.  During these hard times for fashion jewelry, the Best Brand theme line boomed with endless designs that could change looks as easy as changing chokers



Is it immune from the economy?  Display this fashion jewelry in your showcase with pendants and earrings that have something for everyone’s special interest and customers have to stop and study all the detail.  Can a woman that loves her Yorkie pass up a cute Yorkie pendant when she spots it?  Can a Mom so proud of her son in baseball walk away from an attractive “baseball Mom” pendant?  Especially in a bad economy the human spirit finds relief by buying some little item that brings a happy experience.  The emotional appeal of themes is just too powerful to resist!

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Filed under Costume Jewelry
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Costume jewelry has always taken some of its best ideas from fine jewelry, replacing expensive, real gemstones with amazingly real-looking stones like CZs, rhinestones and glass that cost just a fraction of the price. 


A prime example of that movement can be seen in the fabulous new costume jewelry collection being introduced by Prada, the super-expensive fashion brand that has formerly stood for some of the most expensive accessories in the world. 


Now, however, Prada is unveiling a group of costume jewelry pieces that mimic real jewelry with remarkable skill. We don’t expect everyone to go out and buy Prada…the pricing is still high, by costume jewelry standards.  But, it is important to be aware of the products and to see the kind of jewelry the firm is manufacturing. 


              — After all, this is an incredibly hot brand, and getting “the Prada look” isn’t a bad thing to try for. It’s just about guaranteed many top costume manufacturers will be doing just that!


Prada is using a number of innovative materials in its new collection, like crystals of various sizes that are treated with thermic shock to create a cracked effect. They are then put on grosgrain ribbons which are linked to chains and clasps made with silver-alloyed metals. These, in turn, are used to form the collection’s necklaces, earrings and bracelets. 


The new Prada necklaces will retail from $695 to $750, while the earrings will run $350.

But, the good news is, you don’t have to spend that much to still get plenty of Prada-like power.  In making your buying plans, look for jewelry items with large, expensive-looking gemstones. 


Prada uses a good deal of turquoise in the new collection, along with clear crystal and both silver- and gold-toned gold in one piece. The firm also works with matched sets. Mixed metals rank high in this new grouping.  So do crystals or CZs on ribbon or on metal link chains.


Consider a bib necklace made of high fashion reconstituted turquoise stones set in a meandering pattern of metal.  It approximates the Italian look dramatically.  Also, look at fashion earrings in turquoise color, or a faux turquoise and crystal brooch with Victorian inspiration.  They all speak with the same refinement and beauty.


             — Remember:  Getting a hot designer look isn’t all that difficult. 


All it takes is, first, a keen eye for detail, and an appreciation of the original item. Then, you have to list the main elements of the item.  Think in terms of color, material, and stones.  Also, is the piece traditional, or modern? 


Some materials automatically give a rich appearance.  For example, crystal bracelets are wonderfully elegant, and perfect for that special formal affair.  Made of Austrian crystal, these bracelets will dazzle the eye delightfully. This is the mood you should look for when trying for jewelry with a “Prada sensibility.” 


Once you’ve got a line on all of that, start looking for pieces that match up with the original in at least several points.  And don’t forget to trust your own eye:  Do the pieces look alike?  If the answer is “Yes,” you’ve got a hit!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, November 17th, 2008

Filed under Fashion Jewelry
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The media serves up a constant diet of bad news, yet wholesale jewelry seems undaunted as it continues to roll along.  Is wholesale jewelry the teflon accessory that nothing sticks to?  Not, quite! It just marches to a different drummer. 


Sure, bad news and the economy take their toll on high ticket items, but wholesale jewelry in the moderate price rage is far more susceptible to fashion trends than the economy and today’s trends strongly favor color and dramatic size in fashion jewelry.  This is fertile ground for wholesale fashion jewelry that delivers these trends so well. 


Beyond size and color, trends are classic, which implies a standard of excellence.  Fashion jewelry that fits into the classic framework seems to have an irresistible attraction that consumers can’t pass up. 


Components and design contribute to this intangible feature that the eye perceives as classic and semi precious stone has migrated to the top as the consumers’ favorite component.  Visit fine department stores today and you will see gemstone fashion jewelry filling the showcases.  These major retailers order well in advance of the season and have plenty of resources to make the right decisions. 




What else do we see in their professionally tailored jewelry lines?  Quality glass jewelry, especially Murano style glass jewelry is there delivering color to go with the season’s palette.  Here is classic jewelry that is truly wearable art.  And this is only the beginning of glass jewelry that has so many looks that it’s mind boggling. 




Glass jewelry can be faux pearls, just one rung below genuine in quality, or it can be faceted glass that rivals lead crystal for dressy looks.  It can be as unusual as millefiore that slices glass rods melted together to form a multitude of tiny flower designs.  Another glass art is goldstone that dates back to the Renaissance with sparkling metallic particles suspended in colored glass. 



A fall surprise in classic jewelry uses shell normally reserved for the summer.  Dark shell like black lip mother of pearl makes a spectacular statement with dyed freshwater pearls for a look that is totally fall.  Nature plays a big part in classic fashion jewelry. 


Yes, the media is pouring out bad news about the economy and wholesale fashion jewelry seems deaf to the message because economy is not its drummer.  So, fashion retailers, don’t worry about the economy; pay attention to fashion trends because fashion jewelry rises and falls to the drum beat of trends.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Friday, November 14th, 2008

Filed under Fashion Accessories
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LAND OF MYSTERY AND INTRIGUE: Has there ever been a nation that has produced more exquisitely detailed and elegant jewelry than India?  From the majestic Taj Mahal to the spiritual enclaves of the austere Himalayas, India’s panorama of mystery, creativity, and alluring exotica flows endlessly.

History was no different in recent weeks, when India launched three different fashion shows to entrance international buyers. Most of the designs featured new, exciting talent and were strongly geared toward a western clientele. 

Despite the global economic downturn, sales surged.  Spirits were high.  All in all, the events were a smash success, with plenty of fresh ideas and selling strategies emerging.  Pantsuits, short hems and dresses filled the runways, along with wonderful Indian fabrics and motifs.  There were even teenie bikinis, a real rarity in this part of the world. 

MAJOR ETHNIC SURGE:  Ruthie Miller of American Rag pointed out that there is a strong surge of ethnic interest in America right now.  She felt this was the right time to introduce new Indian designers to the U.S., saying that the Indian look fits the current fashion look.


          — Here in the United States, chandelier earrings are already giving the Indian look a major boost forward, especially when they feature colorful jewels and seductive and dazzling movement.  Consider Austrian crystal earrings for beauty and ethnicity power.  Also, to maximize the color factor, look at crystal chandeliers in amber, Siam red, or peridot green


Indian designers adore color, especially bright, dazzling color mixed with crystals and sequins for gorgeous light refraction.  For nightwear, a particularly dramatic choice in the Indian-mode on the American shore would be rhinestone chandelier earrings with 2″ long drops.  These sparkling pieces would make any evening outfit shine!


FASCINATING COLOR USES:  Among the popular designers showing in New Delhi and Mumbai was Anukj Sharma, from Rajasthan.  The young designer’s work features Grecian styles, crepes, and georgette dresses. The use of color here was interesting, mainly browns and grays.  Other designers tended more toward exuberant colors, in true Indian tradition, showing bright hues and glittering embellishments and jewelry. 


An outfit from Lecoanet Hemant was particularly western:  A short-hemmed black skirt with white top topped by a transparent bright orange red shortie coat.  Another lovely look came from Prashant Verma.  Here an above-the-knee dress in modern black, blue and white print with shining embellishments looked very American Girl-ish.  A gorgeous Indian sari from Anuu Modi was done in shimmering gold, very light, airy, flowing. It was shown with a very ornate headdress, satiny slippers, and an unusual green pendant necklace. 


METALLICA:  Not only did the shows elevate Indian fashion to a high degree, they also acted as a dynamic backdrop to traditional Indian jewelry.  Just look at many of the handsome India-Indian ankle bracelets that are so popular, like a silver-plated ankle charm piece.  Also, the  profusion of metallic embellishments, which has been a mainstay of Indian fashion for centuries, gave an exotic, spectacular flavor to both accessories and clothing.


Not to be missed:  Indian bracelets, most of them done in rich metal finishes.  Bracelets were often piled in multiples up the arm, as has been the custom in the Middle East for a very long time.


                  — In this story, wonderful choices with strong India-inspiration are elephant bracelets, with wide artistic cuffs showing elephants in raised relief.  This is then bordered by textured gold plating.  These bracelets cross over the night-and-day lines, becoming as casual or as formal as the event demands



For a singularly formal evening, though, look at sparkling crystal bracelets, just perfect for that special affair.  These bracelets are beautifully made of Austrian crystal.  To be worn alone or with any other jewelry here:  Silver-plated bangles.



And for evening or day wear, go the Indian way with a barrage of silver bangles worn on both arms.  Spectacular!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, November 13th, 2008