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Archive for January, 2011...

Filed under Mardi Gras
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With nearly 175 years of history in New Orleans, Mardi Gras has had time to gather plenty of tradition and history.  According to Arthur Hardy’s book, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the New Orleans newspaper was reporting parades on foot of masked participants as early as 1837. 

Today the entire burden of organizing and paying for parades rests on Krewes.  Few know the word “Krewes” outside the area of Mardi Gras celebration.  They are private clubs with membership by invitation only and date back to The Mistick Krewe of Comus in New Orleans that formed in 1857.  Currently, there are 53 parades in the New Orleans area alone entirely paid for by Krewe members and that is why Mardi Gras is billed The Greatest Free Show on Earth. 

Comus also provided the first parade with costumed maskers and floats in 1857.  They borrowed floats from Mobile’s Cowbellian deRakin Society that celebrated on New Years Eve and loaned the floats to Comus for Mardi Gras Day.  

The Cowbellian Society is a great clue to understanding Mardi Gras for those outside the area of celebration.  This very formal sounding organization celebrated on New Year’s Eve when the public would take to the streets, reigning in the new year with cowbells and rakes for noisemakers.  From that, the Society took its name so you can see there is a lot of tongue in cheek connected with Mardi Gras. 


The celebration of the Carnival season by Krewe’s also included masked balls that were for members and invited guests only.  Masking and the official beginning of Carnival Season go back to Europe well before the celebration in America.  Masks were common of the streets of Venice, home of the art of Venetian masks, throughout the year and often used to cover identity for promiscuous behavior.  In the Middle Ages, the Church stepped in to control the custom by limiting the time of masking to The Fest of the Epiphany (Jan. 6th) to Mardi Gras Day, the day before Ash Wednesday.   


This is still the official period for Carnival season. Carnival means farewell to meat, referring to abstaining from meat during Lent.  So on January 6th in South Louisiana, Mardi Gras music starts playing on the radio and women break out their Mardi Gras jewelry to get in the spirit. Masks are a popular theme in Mardi jewelry because of their strong connection to the season.  Pins are the most popular jewelry item and masks along with jesters and crowns are the most popular themes. 

Popularity of crown themes date back to The Krewe of Rex (Latin for king), founded in 1872.  Rex parades on Mardi Gras Day and the Mayor hands over the keys of the City to Rex to rule for that day.  Rex sent out an edict that schools, businesses, post offices, and the Custom House should close on Mardi Gras Day and New Orleans follows the King’s edict. 

In addition to Rex, most other Krewes have royalty with kings, queens, and a court that changes every year.  Members or royalty have favors they hand out and crown pins are among the most popular.  Krewe members attending balls also hand out favors with Mardi Gras pins popular among them also. 


Jesters become popular themes among Mardi Gras jewelry because of their connection to royal courts.  While pins are the most popular Mardi Gras jewelry for both favors and accessories to get in the spirit, women often like to match them with earrings for sets that can be worn to work or just for everyday wear during Carnival season.  Many have matching earrings, which can be found on our site by changing the MGP to MGE before the number and using the search. 

Part II will continue the history and traditions of Mardi Gras told in jewelry by examining charm bracelets, designed with specific themes for different elements of Mardi Gras.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Monday, January 31st, 2011

Filed under Fashion Accessory News
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If you’re in the fashion jewelry and accessories industry, brace for price increases in 2011.  None of us like to hear about prices going up; nevertheless, next year we could experience a substantial rise. What is behind it?    

Over the last number of years, the industry has become more dependent on China as the supplier of fashion jewelry and accessories—dependent to the point that many domestic manufacturers of fashion jewelry have closed shop due to loss of business to overseas.  Price was the driving force that moved the manufacturing of fashion jewelry and accessories to China. 

While China’s industry grew, Rhode Islands’ jewelry industry dwindled.   Even brand name accessories were relying on China as their manufacturing base.  China enjoyed a brisk economy and this led to a rising cost of living (inflation through November is 5.1% for 2010).  Wages had to increase for workers to survive when everything was getting more expensive.  This was the first pressure on rising prices affecting wholesalers’ cost for fashion jewelry and accessories.   

Another factor was also causing pressure for increased wages.  Many of the workers were from the north and jewelry and accessory factories were mainly in the south.  Workers would travel south to get work and go home for Chinese New Years, then return south to resume their jobs.  With prosperity, factories began opening in the north and workers were not coming back.  Factories in the south had to raise wages to keep a work force. 


Besides wages, raw materials are also increasing in price.  Metals are going up, cotton is having a sharp price increase, and oil went to $90 a barrel, which meant synthetics like nylon, polyester, and polypropylene would all see increases.  In addition, oil is mainly a transportation fuel so cost of moving raw materials and finished goods are seeing increases. 


In addition, the developed countries are pressuring China to increase the value of the yuan.  They feel the yuan is undervalued and that costs jobs in the developed countries.   A majority of economists believe that adjusting the yuan upward will most likely have a positive effect of jobs in the developed nations and this would be good, but most of these nations do not have manufacturing facilities for inexpensive jewelry and accessories.  So these goods would still be bought from China at a higher cost because of the exchange rate. 


Manufacturers are already preparing wholesalers for the rising prices that will be coming.  Once you are aware of them, you can prepare your customers by urging them to buy items they know they will need now.  Think of this—when the public is aware of a hike in stamp prices, they respond by loading up on forever stamps.  The Dallas News reported that forever stamp sales went to 60 million per day before the 2008 increase in price.  That is up from 30 million—doubling stamp sales. 

By telling customers in advance, you can boost sales and they can save money.  You get the benefit of a sale without cutting prices and profits.  It is important for the customers to understand that these are industry wide price increases, not just price hikes from your suppliers. 

Another tactic is to discontinue items and replace them with similar merchandise.  This makes the increase less noticeable.  Decisions of keeping or discontinuing items because of price at Accessory Wholesale rest on the importance of a specific item to sales.  If the product is important, we raise the price and keep the item; if not, we discontinue the product. 

Also, you can stock now on items you know you will need and beat the price increases.  Then when prices go up, you can use the gasoline station tactic of raising prices immediately and generating some extra profit from inventory already on the shelves.  This can give a slight boost to your profit margin.


When will we see price increases?  It will be a year-long process that will begin right after the first of the year.  Some items will see increases early.  Expect hats, especially straw hats, to be impacted as soon as the spring line is available.  Some jewelry items like rhinestone and hematite may remain stable without much increase while other items may have moderate increases.  Overall, your customers may experience some sticker shock in 2011, but increases will be industry wide and consumers will soon absorb with everything returning to normal.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Friday, January 28th, 2011

Filed under Boas
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Everyone knows Mardi Gras beads are a big part of the celebration in Carnival season, but less known is the rise of feather boas for Mardi Gras as well as other parties and gatherings. 

When feather boas came on the scene is uncertain, but the Wikipedia says their history goes back to the 1820s and could go back even further.   The popularity of feather boas has been a rollercoaster ride throughout history peaking at the turn of the century, in the 1970s, and returning in our present day. 

Different quality and uses result from using different feathers.  Ostrich provides a more expensive boa that can be fun item, but also crosses the line as a fashion statement.  The most popular boas today are marabou and chandelle.  Marabou has the even fur look while chandelle uses turkey flats for a more uneven fuller appearance. 

 Feather boas are normally 6 feet long and the weight in grams determines the fullness.  Chandelle boas have a nice fullness at 55 grams.  The wholesale boas featured by Accessory Wholesale are chandelles with a 55 gram weight.  Tri-tone boas made up of purple, yellow, and green feathers are becoming a must-have item for gift shops catering to Mardi Gras, but boas today have a year-round appeal that goes far beyond Carnival season. 

Wherever a festive spirit abounds, boas can be part of the celebration.  They pop up at birthday parties, bachelorette parties, Sweet Sixteens, and Quinceaneras.  Groups participating in breast cancer awareness walks like to distinguish themselves with pink boas and fans choose team colors when cheering at a sporting event.


Solid color feather boas provide a range that covers most of these events and some include gold or silver lurex for a little extra glitz.  We are in Mardi Gras season with Fat Tuesday just seven weeks away so this is great time to introduce feather boas to your shop.  If you feel they don’t fit into your product mix, use the boas for decoration and I’m sure a customer will approach you to buy them.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Filed under Fashion Trends
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BRITISH GENTLEMEN:  Look out!  You are back in style in a big way this year, as menswear manufacturers turn up the heat on elegantly tailored clothing with a very upper-crusty elan. This is a look men are sure to appreciate, but no more than the ladies who are certain to stay true to form and steal as much as they can from the boys to round out their own wardrobe choices.  Many of the suits express an updated Forties and Fifties style, using materials with more body and pattern than we’ve been used to in recent years.  Look for tweeds, herringbones, plaids and flannels, all underwriting an aristocratic British appearance.  To call it rich is an understatement.

   Among the outstanding examples of the new wave are Joseph Abboud’s lightly striped jacket and Hart Schaffner Marx’s wool pants in a muted stripe.  Wear these with a striped shirt and plaid tie, plus a solid, satiny pocket square, and you’ve got the look down pat.  Isaia’s wool suit in a gentle plaid, worn with a Hickey Freeman somewhat assertive plaid shirt, is another winner.

   The big color here is brown. Yes, brown!  Remember back when Ronald Reagan wore brown and was criticized broadly for being “out-of-fashion”?  Maybe he was just ahead of time!

   An interesting accessory coming on strong with the English flavored couture is the tie bar. It is hot for fall 2011!  Also big with the look are leather gloves and, for especially inclement weather, a cashmere scarf.  You can put the look together yourself or rely on a store like Brooks Brothers to work it out perfectly for you! Realize that the mixed patterns do require a deft hand at developing the right overall outfit.

   Women opting for the menswear design direction need only look at recent magazine stories about the engagement of Prince William and his lady fair to find quietly rich and appropriate accessories for their British style.  Pearl necklaces.  Pearl drop earrings.  Refined gold bangle bracelets.  On one hand, you don’t have to be quite as dowdy as many in the Royal Family, but still…keep the glitz down. Stay classic.





ABUSED CHILDREN:  Even though the United States Department of Labor has beefed up its efforts to stop child labor in various countries around the world, the heinous practice still goes on. A labor report released last week by the Labor Department notes that both child and forced- labor practices continue in several key nations.  The abuses were particularly prevalent in apparel manufacturing as well as the cultivation of cotton and the mining of gold and diamonds.  China, India, Jordan, Argentina, Malaysia and Thailand were cited as among the top abusers. 

    Still, the news is not all bleak. The International Labour Organization reports that child labor has decreased by 3 percent worldwide from 2004 to 2008.  U.S. Senator Tom Harkin says, “That is moving in the right direction.”

BLACK BEAUTY:  One of the most sophisticated and dramatic trends surfacing for fall is the strong use of the color black.  Designer Vaughan Alexander expressed it well in introducing his newest collection, saying his ideal woman is a “global citizen who’s leaning toward the darker side.”  (That’s not temperament we’re talking about, it’s visual dynamics.)

    For his collection’s piece de resistance, Alexander focused on a fabulous long black knotted cotton skirt, pairing it with a black tank top and then cinching the outfit at the waist with a medium width black belt.  Also accessorizing the look:  a passel of gold bangles and a long gold chain.  Elegant!

   More black on the fashion horizon includes a mid-calf length black viscose dress from Maison Bellaish.  Made in Israel, the Art Nouveau-style straight-line dress is worn with very black, very high platform shoes.


HOT COLORS & PLENTY OF WHIMSY:  Accessories are taking on an assertive personality as colors intensify and designs stand out from the crowd with verve.  Just looking at some of the latest trends in the field can make you smile.  Consider, for example, a bright green reptilian leather bag from Prada that practically slithers into the room with you, or a red and gold clutch from Chloe, complete with rich golden hardware. 

    A brilliant blue clutch from Marc Jacobs is both reserved (all one color) and wild (a very bright color), while another clutch, this from Louis Vuitton, literally vibrates with the light of its red, orange, and gold colors.  Wow!



Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, January 21st, 2011

Filed under Fashion Marketing
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Where did Valentine’s Day come from?  Did the card companies make it up?  NO! It dates back too far for that.  A mix of history and legend dates back to 496 A.D. as the beginning of Valentine’s Day when Pope Gelasius added the feast day of St. Valentine to the Roman Calendar of Saints. 

Most of what we know about St. Valentine comes from Legenda Aurea (Golden Legend), rather than from the more reliable Acts of the Martyrs.  The legend says that St. Valentine was a priest in Rome during the reign of Claudius, who put out an edict that Roman soldiers could not marry.  St. Valentine secretly performed wedding ceremonies for the soldiers and eventually Claudius found out and had him arrested.  St. Valentine’s jailer was aware of the gift of healing attributed to the Saint and asked Valentine to heal his blind daughter.  The girl regained her sight and became devoted to St. Valentine. 

Claudius tried to convert Valentine to the Roman gods and, in turn, Valentine tried to convert Claudius to the Christian God, which resulted in Valentine getting the death sentence.  The jailer’s daughter suffered a great deal of grief as Valentine waited in prison for his execution.  To bring some relief, St. Valentine asked for pen and wrote a note to the cured girl that simply stated “from your Valentine”. 

A more likely association of the Saint to romance can be found in the 1400s when many in England and France believed that birds picked their mates on February 14th, the feast of St. Valentine’s.  From this grew the custom of exchanging handmade cards or gifts.  In 1847, Esther Howland manufactured the first Valentine’s cards in the United States—so there goes the theory that card companies started the custom of exchanging Valentines. 

Today, Valentine’s Day has become a huge event—bigger than we imagine until we look at what days generate the most activity in giving.  Mother’s Day is the biggest day for flowers, Easter for candy, and Christmas for cards, but the special day that is number two for all the above is Valentine’s Day.  This is why Valentine’s Day can be important to shops in the fashion industry. 

Add-on gifts are a wonderful keepsake that constantly reminds the receiver of the warm feelings associated with the special day.  Candy, flowers, and dining out are the most popular gifts for Valentine’s Day, but they are not lasting.  The little add-on gift is there long after the flowers wilt and the candy is gone. 


Valentine’s jewelry rates high for add-on gifts.  This season sees new heart pins with sparkling crystals that will stir warm feelings every time this special gift is put on.   Fresh designs are available this year so your Valentine jewelry selection can get a new look. 


Grouping Valentine’s jewelry and accessories in one display gives impact to your selection and adding some decorations stirs the spirit.  Do this for every season and occasion and soon your shop will be the go-to place for special gifts. 

 I noticed this when I called on shops as a road salesman of wholesale fashion jewelry.   When a special day came that called for gifts, some shops had a steady flow of customers that depended on them for the just-right item.  The shops were so busy; I had to rush through the jewelry presentation whenever the buyer could take a break.  What made these shops so special?  They prepared for every holiday or event with a display dedicated to the season and stirred interest with decorations.  Of course, this will not be immediate success, but starting and persevering will eventually pay off.   


Add some accessories to the display as well.  Valentine scarves make a soft and feminine statement with a gift that is very affordable.  Affordable is important when thinking about add-on gifts because they are not the main event.  They accompany something like dining out that can be costly.  Still a Valentine heart pin can make the evening far more meaningful. 

If February is cold and snowy, many retailers are looking for ways to generate more income.  Give serious thought to special events that can draw customers for Valentine’s Day and draw them back again for Easter and Mother’s Day.   Become the go-to place to find gifts for occasions.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Filed under Fashion Accessory News
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THE FIRST HALF OF 2011 promises to be an exciting time as a bevy of trade shows, including Premiere Classe and Eclat de Mode-Bijorhca, open in and around Paris! A review of a few of the exhibitors at the famed international expositions throws a brilliant light on new trends and repeat traditions certain to surface for the New Year.

FEIDT, A RELATIVELY NEW jewelry house established by sisters Muriel and Nathalie Feidt less than four years ago will present some interesting themes to retailers at the show such as yin and yang symbols, life trees and butterflies.  A not-so-small amount of western religious symbols will also be on hand.  The company produces small-scale gold jewelry designed to be worn all the time and not squirreled away in a safety drawer. 

Most of the pieces feature diamonds and semi-precious stones set into metal bases of rose, white, and yellow gold.  Expected to make waves at the shows this year is a new collection of angel wings with rock and roll notes. Retail prices on the 2011 Feidt jewelry are expected to run from about $240 to $600.

ROSEANNA IS ALSO a relatively new, four-year old firm established by Anne-Fleur Broudehoux and Roxane Thiery.  The company produces a full clothing line including pieces for the beach.  The interesting thing about this firm is its emphasis on directional fabrics, giving jewelry and other accessory makers a good idea of the moods and styles coming their way this year.  For example, the company has a new collection inspired by South Dakota and the region’s vast natural landscapes.  There are also nomadic looks and patchwork outfits in distressed cotton or silk, many expressing a masculine mystique.






NADIA DAFRI BEGAN PRODUCING textile jewelry “with a social twist” just last year and has moved rapidly up the success ladder.  Individuals enrolled in rehabilitation centers in suburban Paris produce the line. Most of the pieces are made from new textiles but there are a number of items also produced using old fabric stock in order to make each piece “look different.”

   Large jewelry pieces like breastplates (which are hot this year!) are based on the idea of creating sculptural pieces that express a design somewhere between jewelry and accessories. An important new collection features African cotton and Indonesian folkloric prints.  These are then embellished with passementerie and tassels embroidered with glass beads, quartz, amethyst or tourmaline.  A collection of precious metallic pieces can also be clipped into the firm’s fabric ropes.  Prices overall run from $65 to $500, retail.

ANTON HEUNIS IS A SOUTH AFRICAN-BORN resident of Madrid where he creates what he calls “new vintage” jewelry. This year, the designer is showing two collections.  One is a modern grouping of jewelry pieces made up of mixed metal pendants and charms.  The other is a more elaborate grouping inspired by Seventies-era Bulgari jewelry. Heunis uses Swarovski crystals and semiprecious stones in traditional gemstone colors:  soft ruby, along with opalescent greens and violets.   Heunis’ jewelry, which sells particularly well in the United States, will be on display at Paris’ Premiere Classe.

YARNZ offers New Yorkers and others around the globe a new way of looking at silk scarves.  As expressed by the firm’s designer Larry Wolfe, “We wanted to take the idea of the most popular trends and make them a little more literal.”  The result of this intent is impressive:  a collection that evokes a Seventies-feel, working with earthy neutrals with graffiti-inspired brights. 

Moving into the Fall of 2011, Yarnz will collaborate with W Hotels on a capsule Global Glam collection inspired by the cities of Austin, Texas and Taipei.  The collection will be one of several designer scarf collections on display for New York Fashion Week.

PERLE DE LUNE, a recent graduate of Gem-A in London, set out to create precious yet affordable jewelry. Her feminine and luminous pieces feature small diamonds in a range of natural and opaque colors from smoky to icy gray.  For fall, the designer is introducing a group of frosted pieces with miniature textured yellow and gray gold beads and rare shades of stone, all inspired by the artist Gustav Klimt.  Another collection, called Maharani, is homage to the city of Jaipur, India.  It includes finely engraved and perforated metals dangling on chain bracelets and necklaces.  Prices run from $265 to over $5,000, retail.



Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, January 17th, 2011

Filed under Fashion Trends
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 SUPER FASHION DESIGNER Donna Karan says there is another way of casual dressing other than just jeans.  “We have been very jean-oriented,” she says, “and it’s about blue jeans, blue jeans, blue jeans.  But,” she adds, “There is another more relaxed way of dressing.”

Karan is talking about her newest pre-fall collection of casual fashion, a grouping that represents a “reformulating” of the entire Karan company, away from an almost exclusive emphasis on formal-like attire, toward clothes representing a more relaxed lifestyle for customers.  “In tune,” the designer puts it, “with the way women are dressing today.”

The new clothes are at once elegant and easy to wear, relaxed and comfortable.  “I think (the new clothes idea) has a more fashionable twist to it,” Karan declared.  Pointing out that a T-shirt isn’t just a T-shirt any longer. 

   –“A T-shirt has to have so much more meaning,” she said. “It has to have the drape to it, the ease to it, the edge to it, and a pant is not just a pant, but there has to be the seaming of it, the suede detail, the distressed quality, and the washes of the fabric.

“The way I look at it,” she said, “it’s the next generation” of where jeans are going.




                                          Couture Casual

EXEMPLIFYING HER NEW DIRECTION, the pre-fall collection is filled with highly creative, even remarkable looking clothes.  One outfit, for example, includes a washed brown leather jacket worn over a tan and light grey jersey T-shirt dress.  The outfit is seen with leather belts with metal hoop closures, a big cashmere scarf wrapped several times around the neck, and cozy gloves.  The total impression sounds contradictory because it is at once directional, urban, and new, and at the same time has a certain retro feel that brings to mind Russian country peasantry.

Another outfit on the Karan runway featured a long-haired shearling hooded vest worn over a brown viscose parachute dress, also with leather belting. Again, the outfit is complex, and almost contradictory.  It is rich, designer-y, very upper-crusty as the Brits might say.  But it also has a definite feel of the 1970s thrift store “Second Avenoo” fashion a la Barbra Streisand. Wild!

Just how would you accessorize this new look?  You might want to use a smooth leather handbag, or even a distressed leather shoulder bag in brown or natural.  Silver was made for the look:  silver bracelets, chain belts.  And earrings, well, keep them simple, bohemian, hand-made looking

                                                 New Dress Formula


YOU MIGHT KEEP THE FORMULA in mind because it looks like the new Karan idea might well catch on soon.  This is a look that fills in where jeans won’t go, to work for instance, yet it is easy to wear, comfortable, down-played.  Keep an eye on it!   

Ken Dowling, senior vice president at Neiman Marcus, says, “We are seeing a dressed-up casualization in the market. This will give her (the customer) a whole new option for day-to-day.  We are seeing the need and real desire to have lovely casual clothes beyond just the idea of racksuits.

Ron Frasch, president of Saks, Inc., essentially agrees,” There is this whole area of business where our lives are less formal today and more relaxed, and people are dressing in a way that their weekend clothes and their workweek clothes are starting to come together.”

Customers can wear these pieces on the weekends, Karan admits.  “But for me and some people, you wear them seven days a week.  It is a way of life.”

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, January 14th, 2011

Filed under New Orleans Accessories
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  The last blog detailed the rise of fleur-de-lis jewelry and accessories to prominence.  Hurricane Katrina was the catalyst.  Citizens of New Orleans rallied around their City’s symbol as they struggled to rebuild.  The symbol caught on nationwide with other designers incorporating the emblem into fashion accessories.  Hurricane Katrina happened five years ago, so what is keeping fleur-de-lis jewelry and accessories in the limelight today? 


Henrik Vejlgaard in his excellent book, Anatomy of a Trend, states that innovation is the life-blood of a trend.   Well, fleur-de-lis jewelry and accessories have certainly seen plenty of innovation and it continues to this day.  All the latest innovations in fashion are matched by fresh designs in fleur-de-lis themes. 


Large fleur-de-lis rings with stretch bands are a prime example.  Accessories Magazine’s last census report declared that large cocktail rings with stretch bands were the sleeper item of the year.  It didn’t take long for fleur-de-lis jewelry to get onboard with designs of their own—not just one design, but many looks to satisfy a variety of tastes. 


Fleur-de-lis jewelry has also followed fashion’s lead into the statement necklace—high on today’s trend list.  Bold necklace sets displaying fleur-de-lis emblems have the up-to-date design that looks like it just stepped out of a fashion magazine.  Innovation is introducing a steady parade of designs with silver plating most popular, but also gold plating is doing well.


Today’s fashion landscape just can’t seem to get enough bracelets.  If you follow Accessories Magazine’s census reports, you see bracelets either number one or number two in recent years for the big box stores.  Fashion magazines are showing them up and down both arms and cuffs and bangles are at the forefront. 


Fleur-de-lis jewelry hasn’t missed a beat when it comes to bracelets—toggles, cuffs, bangles, and charm bracelets—they’re all there.  Lately exciting styles have been coming out in bold cuffs.  Fleur-de-lis jewelry is right in step with fashion with wide cuffs in silver plating, gold plating, and two-tone plating. 


Accessories are also onboard with fleur-de-lis men’s ties, ladies scarves, sunglasses, handbags, and hats.  The men’s ties are a sleeper.  These hard-to-find items let guys go to work in a suit announcing support for New Orleans in a subtle way.  Five designs are available and most have more than one color.  Gold on black is the most popular combination.  


Fleur-de-lis jewelry and accessories is not limited to New Orleans.  Other cities, like Saint Louis, also have the fleur-de-lis as a city symbol.  The French Canadians use it and Acadiana, the area of South Louisiana famous for their Cajun culture, has the fleur-de-lis on the Acadian flag.  Also, many high schools use the fleur-de-lis as their logo. 

France dropped the fleur-de-lis from their flag during the French Revolution, but the French that came to North America before the Revolution have clung to the emblem and have never given it up.  More meaningful than ever, add some fleur-de-lis jewelry and accessories to your shop, especially if you have clientele that call New Orleans home.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Filed under Uncategorized
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 Since Hurricane Katrina, fleur-de-lis jewelry has made a major impact that started in New Orleans and spread around the country.  We know the fleur-de-lis came with the French heritage and has a history that travels back centuries, but where did it start and has it always had a prominent place in Louisiana?

The legends about the fleur-de-lis origin are countless.  Fleur-de-lis means flower of the lily, but many think the flower that inspired it was an iris or lotus rather than a lily. One popular legend supports the idea of a lotus.  Clovis, the first Merovingian king and the first Christian king of the Franks, lived in the 400s.  Legend says that Clovis needed to cross a river with his army to battle the enemy on the other side, but could not find a shallow place to cross.  Almost miraculously, water lilies pointed out a shallow spot in the river and Clovis crossed and was victorious.  In gratitude, he took the lotus flower of the water lily as his emblem and the fleur-de-lis became the symbol of French royalty. 

Others believe the fleur-de-lis comes from the yellow irises that grew along the riverbank.  No one can be sure which of the many stories about the origin of the fleur-de-lis is correct, but we do know it got to Louisiana through its French founders in the early 1700s.  It became the symbol of New Orleans and can be seen on the convention center and many public buildings. 

Besides New Orleans, the fleur-de-lis represents Louisiana.  The area from Lake Charles, up to Alexandria, and back down to Baton Rouge is called the Cajun triangle. This is the heart of Acadiana and the Acadian flag also contains the fleur-de-lis. 


No doubt the fleur-de-lis is rooted in Louisiana history, but when did the infatuation with fleur-delis jewelry begin?  It wasn’t always there.  Accessory Wholesale has been wholesaling fashion jewelry in New Orleans since 1985. In the mid 1990s, Prada made an impact on fashion that ushered in an era of minimalism.  The natural look was in and dramatic looks in fashion jewelry were out.   The fashion jewelry business wouldn’t pay the light bill, so Accessory Wholesale developed a line specialized for the tourist industry. 

Everything Louisiana was expressed in jewelry, resulting in a very original line.  The best selling items were alligators, crawfish, and peppers.  Pelicans, frogs, egrets, and cypress trees were decent.  Fleur-de-lis jewelry was part of the line, but fleur-de-lis sales at that time were dreadfully slow. 

By 2005, we had little fleur-de-lis jewelry left and we weren’t worried about restocking it.  Then at the end of August, Hurricane Katrina struck.  New Orleans was traumatized and the story dominated the news. The fleur-de-lis, the symbol of the city, suddenly became the rallying point for citizens struggling to rebuild.  Everyone wanted to express their connection to the city with fleur-de-lis jewelry or accessories. Supply could hardly keep up. 


Five years have past and every time that I think fleur-de-lis jewelry has run its course and will slow down, I’m wrong.  There is something mysterious about the city’s connection to its symbol.  Maybe this will explain it.  Relatives came from out of state for a visit recently.  While eating, they asked about the Hurricane.  At that point I realized we don’t talk about it; we don’t think about it; we just rally around our City’s symbol and move forward. Perhaps that’s the power of fleur-de-lis jewelry.

Comments (0) Posted by admin on Monday, January 10th, 2011

Filed under Fashion Marketing
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 RETURNS.  FOR RETAILERS, THIS just isn’t a nice word!  But it is an increasingly important one, invariably rated a top consideration on customers’ lists of consumer services they most value. A common statement from buyers is, “If I can’t return it, I won’t buy there.” 

   — But believe it — there is more to it then just being able to make a return. The big questions include “For how long after purchase can the customer bring the product back?”  And, “What documentation will the customer need?” 

Retailer policies on products that customers bring back to the store are always in a state of flux.  Senior “Editor Tod Marks of Consumer Reports calls them “a moving target,” advising customers to always read the fine print.  

Apparently, Americans expect to spend at least one hour waiting in lines to return holiday purchases this year.  And, according to Consumer Reports, almost 20% say they expect to return at least one gift.  That adds up to a lot of returns, and refers only to those returns that might be called “legitimate”!




                                                 Fraud Protection

BEYOND THAT, THE National Retail Federation reports that the retail industry will lose about $3.68 billion this year in return fraud, up $2.7 billion from last year.    To try dealing with this, 10% of retailers report that they have tightened holiday return policies. Only 5% said they were loosening them up.

Which, you might ask, means what?  Well, Macy’s has gone the lenient route, removing time restrictions on when most items can be returned with a receipt.  Kohl’s promotions include the promise:  You can return any item, anytime, for a full refund without restriction. Such easy returns don’t bode well for small retailers, as they give the big boys added sales power that is hard to compete with.

Most large stores have different return policies for different product categories.  Target has a 90 day return policy on most products, with a receipt required unless purchased by credit card, debit card, gift card, or check.  Many prepackaged products can’t be returned at all if opened unless defective.  For electronics, there is a 15% restocking fee.

Sears has a 90 day return policy, but only 30 days on jewelry and watches.  A receipt or e-mail confirmation and original packaging is required. 

If you are going to try competing head-on with any of these major stores, you’d better have a return policy relatively lenient or you’ll be in trouble.  Admittedly, consumers generally do not expect smaller retailers to offer the same customer-friendly terms as big stores, but they still do expect eased service restrictions, especially during the present economic turn-down.

Some stores require approval by the manager for returns. Others will only refund online purchases with a merchandise credit. Understanding what your competition is doing about returns helps you write a store policy that is as lenient as necessary for your own protection.


                                          Marketing Strategy

V. RUMAR, A PROFESSOR at the J. Mark Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University has found that if consumers know they can return an item more easily, it will make them more likely to go to that store to buy.  They will also be more likely to refer friends and family to the store.
Rumar adds that lenient return policies “communicate and build trust in the minds of consumers through the assurance of either cash back/store credit if the product has to be returned.”  He contends that return policies can be used as a strategy to bring in future sales.

Obviously, good customer service is becoming increasingly important for shoppers.  Sales and deals are still seen as the most important consideration for buying, but that number is surprisingly on the decline.  It has dropped from 43.3 percent last year to 41.8 percent this year.

On the other hand, customer service as the most important consideration rose to the highest percentage since 2002!  Retail analyst Patricia Edwards says that while people are still value-conscious, “the shopping experience is becoming a bigger consideration now.”




Big box stores compete with return policies to lure customers, but small business can go broke by trying to play the game.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, January 7th, 2011