Why have one accessory when you can have three? Or five? A new wave of interchangeable and customizable accessories allow for creative mix-and-matching that takes one look and stretches it to many. With so many sites stressing DIY fashion, who doesn’t fancy herself a designer?
Fendi started this trend at the designer level with its upscale fur bag charms followed by its Strap You program, allowing fashionistas to be photographed in the same bag but still show their individuality. The interchangeable strap concept caught on quickly, with straps selling independently for $500 for plain calf styles to $1,100 for floral embellished ones.
Rebecca Minkoff made this more attainable with detachable “guitar straps” sold separately ($95 each). “We are seeing an amazing reaction to the guitar straps and several styles already sold out,” says Minkoff. “Customers are loving the idea of getting an entirely new look without having to purchase a whole bag.”
The concept, notes Minkoff, is to make it your own, so the guitar strap program isn’t linked to specific bag styles. “Most of our RM handbags already have a detachable crossbody/shoulder straps, so it’s a simple way to change it up.”
Furla is introducing its first interchangeable concept with MyPlayFurla this Fall, offering 10 snap-on flap options ($78 to $148) for its popular Metropolis bag ($398).
“The experience is fun and easy both in-store and online and both shopping experiences offer different capabilities,” says Furla CEO Scott Link. “The e-commerce user can take the fun personality quiz we developed that unveils which flap best suits her personal style. This allows us to engage with our girl and help guide her in making her purchase.”
This interchangeable concept appeals to self purchasers and Furla uses videos in-store and online to walk her through the process. “Given the experience and special curation that comes with this purchase, she is usually buying for herself, complementing her own personal style,” says Link, who adds that the program offers easy day (regular leathers) into night (glitter and metallic) transition opportunities.
Bloomingdale’s has gone after the customization category in the past and is expanding it due to its current rise in popularity, says Erica Russo, OVP and Fashion Director of Beauty and Accessories.
“The Bloomingdale’s shopper is fashion-savvy and loves options, so the customization is perfect for her. We’ll guide her through the process with in-store displays and visuals, but ultimately, how she decides to accessorize her look is up to her,” says Russo. “Over the past season, we’ve offered DIY in-store events from a Kendra Scott color jewelry bar to choker-making stations where shoppers could put their spin on the popular trend.”
At Belk, interchangeable watches have grown over the last season, according to David Neri, GMM Center Core. “We first saw it trending in Q4 last year and it continued through Mother’s Day. This will be big for this upcoming Holiday season and we’re also doing it in our private label businesses like Kim Rogers and Legion. We also address the personalized trend with items such as our Belk Silverworks Charm Bar. The Charm Bar is all about personalization—your initial, your birthstone, your favorite pet or your favorite activity.”
Zappos carries brands like Rebecca Minkoff and Michael Kors with interchangeable handbag systems, noted Senior Buyer Brook James. “We also carry backpacks with stickers as well as key fobs, which are a big trend too. We are excited to hear our customer’s feedback on how they style their accessories.”
Safilo recently launched Swatch Eyes, where the consumer buys a full pair of glasses (retails from $75 to $110) but has the option to buy additional interchangeable fronts (for $40 to $55). Interchangeable snap-on fronts (complete with lenses) and temples in bold designs and colors provide 210 matchmaking possibilities (30 styles with 7 different temples).
The tagline? “I Always Want More Looks!”
One prerequisite for interchangeable or DIY accessories is the confidence to design your own creation or gift something not already pre-styled. Not everyone, however, is comfortable executing a personal creative vision, or even having one.
To fit that bill, many designers/brands are offering ready-made items that look creatively personalized even when they’re not.
Handbag charms and key fobs were a huge trend for Holiday 2015 because the DIY personalization was temporary. Patches and pins are a natural outgrowth of that trend, allowing women to personalize their accessories even more, but brands mentioned pushback from retail buyers about leaving too much up to the consumer. It’s for that reason that many pins or multiples are sold on cards in pre-styled sets rather than let the consumer select the same number of items for the same dollar amount.
Handbag company Kipling North America, a division of VF Sportswear, has unveiled its first interactive retail store concept in Disney Springs. Centrally located in the store is an area dedicated to inspiring “make it your own” style options, such as monogramming and purchases with a Kipling iconic monkey keychain, playful patches, buttons, and more. This service is complimentary with any in-store Kipling purchase with proof of purchase.
“Shopping in-store remains a vital driver of not only sales, but of the overall brand experience,” says Nina Flood, president of Kipling North America. “We have revisited ways in which we can better connect with guests to ensure we are doing our best to meet their needs and make their Kipling experience more memorable.”
Gift store Wilson Street, however, sells IKEN’s interchangeable watch parts but deliberately opted out of the brand’s pre-made sets. “I thought people would enjoy building the watches on their own, plus I welcomed the opportunity to interact with the customer and help her if she needed style advice or assistance,” says owner Lisa Belsky. “Of course the younger generation doesn’t need any help. They just do it on their own!”