UNUSUAL, CREATIVE DESIGNS fueled a surprisingly good Premiere Classe Market in Paris recently, with many buyers saying they were looking to accessories to keep sales going. Statement pieces rated high on the product popularity scale.
While the global economic crisis was foremost on everyone’s mind – some saying they were worried about how sales might be this summer – others said they were not as concerned as American retailers. Overall, there was still an element of optimism.
Ed Burstell, general merchandise manager of jewelry and accessories for Bergdorf Goodman, noted a high amount of newness in jewelry, from delicate to bold. He also pointed to unusual mixes of stones and metals.
“We are looking seriously at Isabel Marant and Mawi for jewelry,” he continued, “and Stephanie Verdino for bags”
— Pay attention to those names, their designs could spark some interesting trends as the year moves on.
“OUR FAVORITE COLORS,” Burstell said, are those that are slightly off from a conventional palette,” like muted mustard, flesh tones, and a blue-green combo.
“Every buy is strategic,” asserted Ann Watson, vice president and fashion director at Henri Bendel, saying she expected the financial crisis to have an impact on spring sales.
“Tough chic accessories still remain strong,” Watson said that, of all the merchandise she viewed at Premiere Classe, she most liked belts and jewelry with silver studs, small spikes, and chains.”
Despite this rough, almost Biker Look popularity, not all buyers agreed. Maria Kerner said she noticed a number of smaller, more refined handbags at the Show, saying that there is definitely a more feminine, lady-like direction coming onto the fashion picture for spring. From her perspective, natural colors were very important.
SOME TYPICAL COMMENTS FROM THE SHOW:
- “You can still do very good business in the midst of a financial crisis.”
- “I expected to be on a level with last season, but we will not make it.”
- “Retailers are coming in with very tight budgets.”
- “The more times are hard, the more retailers prefer standout pieces.”
JEWELER JACQUES AN LANH SAID demand for unique, unusual pieces was very strong. He pointed to a giant wild Polynesian oyster pendant on a twisted pearl choker as the kind of jewelry that catches the buyer’s eye and purchasing interest.
- YOU CAN GET THE SAME INNOVATIVE JEWELRY AT A REASONABLE PRICE: Look especially for earth-sourced jewelry ideas, pieces made with real or faux coral, and other natural or simulated-natural materials. Consider the earth tones and rain forest élan that give this necklace its unusual appearance. The beaded necklace in deep shades of green and amber supports a large bronze plated disc, in deep earth tones. Moving!
Exhibitor Helene Zubeldia said one big surprise for her at the Show was the sales activity at the luxury level. She went to the Show expecting retailers to be interested mainly in smaller pieces. “But that hasn’t been the case,” she adds, saying that “high end statement pieces have been moving very well.”
Luxury Sector Good/Bad
Tim Awan agrees. His firm has moved strongly into the luxury sector and the upgrading hasn’t hurt business one bit, he says. However, his experience doesn’t appear to be typical.
Overall, there appears to be definite resistance on the part of both buyers and sellers to get too involved with high-price merchandise. Many luxury level jewelry makers have reported poor sales activity, especially over the holidays, and some have actually expanded their low-price merchandising to try and offset the luxury sales slack. In any case, good value for a good price is a strong call.
- MERCHANDISING PRODUCTS with a rich, one-of-a-kind appearance is one way retailers are fighting slow sales activity. A twisted cable cuff bracelet with Southwest jewelry feel features twisted cable design with decorative faux pearl ends. It looks custom made and very individual.
Another good choice: A large, imposing bracelet with a huge domed oval of turquoise- or jet-colored faux gemstone, surrounded by intricate silver-plate. Very rich!