Main Street and Wall Street seem to be marching to different drummers as Wall Street declares the recession may be over and Main Street experiences slowing sales. What can we expect as we approach fall?
One thing is certain-floor space and emphasis have switched to fashion accessories with less attention on apparel. The logic behind this move rests on the fact that accessories often have lower price points and have a smaller impact on the family budget as they provide “feel good” purchases to consumers hungry for a little something new to pick up their spirit. Besides accessories can give last year’s apparel a fresh look for this season.
Fashion jewelry is almost always the accessories that lead the field. Our statistics show that wholesale fashion jewelry shipping to retailers continues to exceed all other categories. The “lipstick effect” discovered by Estee Lauder in the recession of 1990 certainly plays into the continued popularity of costume jewelry. This discovery noticed that lipstick sales rose as high ticket items slowed during the 1990 recession in upscale department stores. The conclusion was that women don’t quit buying they just move to lower priced goods to provide a little something new to lift the spirits.
While the “lipstick effect” is certainly helping fashion jewelry sales, trends are doing even more. Costume jewelry is impacting fashion looks everywhere you turn. Dramatic designs in fashion jewelry are turning up in every form of media-fashion magazines, television, the internet, advertising, celebrity wear, not to mention the heavy emphasis on fashion jewelry seen in malls, boutiques, and department stores.
Fashion jewelry sales have ignored the economic trends. Every year Accessories Magazine puts out a report on accessories sales by category. Information comes from many of the major department stores and big box stores. According to the latest report that shows results for 2008 and forecasts for 2009, fashion jewelry hasn’t missed a beat. Each year shows improved sales figures for jewelry while overall store sales may be contracting.
The direction of costume jewelry is certainly a move to classic. This trend has been ongoing for the last few years and according to Henrik Vejlgaard in Anatomy of a Trend, history shows trends like this rise and fall slowly, often over a decade.
What exactly does classic mean when applied to fashion jewelry? Well, according to Webster, classic is a standard of excellence. This excellence is rendered in the components and design of costume jewelry. It also often implies harkening back to a previous outstanding era of costume jewelry, such as the Victorian age or Golden Age of Costume Jewelry (many define 1930s to 1960s as this era). One test of classic is jewelry that appeals to a woman, her mother, and her daughter. This universal appeal that transcends age groups is a quality of classic jewelry.
Costume jewelry design in any season are as diverse as the personalities contributing to the art. But within these styles a few mainstreams develop that become the trends. The fall season will see some existing styles return with slight or major modifications plus some new expressions emerging.
Important branches of fall jewelry trends include long swinging necklaces that rely heavily on chain links and an even stronger return of fashion jewelry with gemstone component. These semi precious stones will provide new surprises as designers incorporate more unusual gemstones into jewelry. Meaningful jewelry with messages return, especially inspirational messages, Scripture quotes, and uplifting words like dream, hope, smile, friends, and family. The overall look of costume jewelry will have impact with dramatic size. Plated metals will range from one-of-a-kind looks that give a hand-made impression to clean classic designs inspired by major jewelry houses of a bygone era.
Nearly everything in fall jewelry delivers impact. Bracelets mix and match in multiples on both wrists. Wide cuffs and bangles are big. Dramatic earrings see a return of chandeliers and glitzy earrings in crystals and rhinestones make a substantial statement. Yes, costume jewelry will have a big impact on fall fashion sales, but its presence will be unannounced.
Slowdowns in business make the nightly news, but increases in costume jewelry sales or any other retail sector happens beneath the radar with no one noticing. Even the consumers continue to believe things are tough as jobs return and retail spending increases. Can we count on fashion jewelry ringing the cash registers this fall? Most certainly! But it won’t be announced in the headlines.