As part of a continuing series, Accessories talks with key accessories merchants. Here, Makiko Tada, Merchandise Manager, Jewelry/Accessories/Handbags of Piperlime, San Francisco, talks Holiday 2013 and Resort 2014 business and projections.
“Piperlime has enjoyed exciting growth in accessory categories in recent years. Our business has evolved to support the trends we see on the runways and also to meet the needs of our customer. Since we launched our apparel business in 2009, accessories business has seen tremendous growth due to our focus on adding unique touches to the outfits we put together. To support our growing apparel business, we have subsequently launched jewelry, watches, scarves, sunglasses, coldweather, hosiery, hats and belts. Accessories are an important part of the “twist” to our customer and who we are as a company. We feature over 80 accessories brands on Piperlime.
BRICKS VS ONLINE: We opened our first store last year, located in New York. Our assortment there is a small capsule of what we do online, but we do have a Shop Our SoHo Store tab online so consumers can see what’s in store for them there—literally. We do not represent everything we do online in the store but some categories come to life in person. Belts for example, look great as a part of an outfit.
TRICKLE-UP EFFECT: Our customers are quicker to adopt brand new trends than most, especially in the accessories categories. In the jewelry category, where runway trends are not always directly translated down, I am always surprised by how much trends actually come “up” from the street and how much I learn from our customers. They often know the street trends better than I do and I learn a lot about trends by watching what’s selling at the moment. We also see the power of blogs, Pinterest, Twitter…social media in general. Trends are definitely coming “up” from consumers in that respect.
SURPRISES: One category that really surprised us was hats. We didn’t see them on the runways but they performed really well. Our hat category in general was strong, and if anything, I’d attribute that to the warm weather and the fact that people are excited to be outside again.
NEW ITEM: Mini-bags, which we’ve been seeing on the runways, are not for everyone but are certainly a fresh trend. We love them in every shape or form—a miniature of any build. We will represent this trend this fall at Piperlime from Marc by Marc Jacobs to Rebecca Minkoff. It’s one of those trends that’s extremely editorial, fresh, and exciting, and I am hoping it will retail well.
RUNWAY TO REALITY: Seeing runway trends is certainly inspiring but not everything translates to true volume drivers. Especially for accessories categories, it is hard not to look costume-y when runway trends are taken too literally.
OPPOSITES ATTRACT: At Piperlime, it’s all about the unexpected twist, and we sometimes see the accessories trends bubbling up by going the opposite (but complementary) direction from apparel. For example, we like menswear-inspired looks with ladylike jewelry; feminine mid-century dresses with black-out watches; or moto jackets paired with ladylike pumps. We like to offer up opposite trends in accessories to balance the look.
DAY INTO NIGHT: I am obsessed with oversized soft clutches from designers like Milly and Lanvin—quite an opposite trend from minaudieres and also more functional. Being oversized makes it “day-to-night”-possible and definitely has a wider audience.
PRICE: Customers are getting savvier than ever and know exactly how much they should be or want to be spending for each item and therefore consumers are doing two things: buying less expensive trendier pieces and also spending money on expensive “splurge-worthy” pieces. We are seeing growth in both of those categories (high and low) and I am impressed by the way consumers know the value of each pricepoint. They are willing to spend the money in any of the accessories investment pieces, but they truly have to be special and emotional. Handbags range from $50 to $795; jewelry from $20 to $500; sunwear from $98 to $460; shoes from $50 to $795; scarves from $35 to $158; and hats from $40 to $125.
FUR: There was so much fur in handbags on the runway and it definitely felt fresh. Hair calf in all silhouettes is one of our big trends and it’s easy to understand.
SELLING METHODS: Piperlime shortcuts are key to our customers’ experience with the brand and help us deliver our trend perspective to shoppers. Accessories are included in these shortcuts from Editors’ Picks to Girl on a Budget to Seasonal Essentials. Each of these help drive the customer to accessories. While we don’t do specific ‘recommended accessories’ for apparel, there are often accessories included through the styling.
COLOR: We were happy and surprised to see how strong the mint/cool-tone trend was this year across categories—handbags, jewelry, scarves, watches—from different pricepoints and brands. Our customer really loved mint handbags from brands like Rebecca Minkoff and Kate Spade New York, to name a few. Emerald being the “color of the year” is certainly interesting and exciting for some accessories categories. I think true emerald color is actually hard to translate in most categories, but the green hues will definitely be important. In jewelry, we try to keep the emerald green looking youthful by mixing in other colors. In many cases, teal and olive greens are easy to wear, especially for handbags and soft accessories.
RESORT/SPRING 2014: Seeing so much black and white (even floral goes black and white!) from Chanel to Marc Jacobs is good for the accessories world since this trend is always easy to translate. All the black and white is also an opportunity to bring in some punchy colors to complement the look. It is nice to see some of the cool tones continuing, which were great sellers last year. I personally love the new metallics in the soft cosmetic palette. Gucci had beautiful soft metallics.