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What’s Really Driving the ‘Hot’ Accessories Market?


via Getty

WWD is calling it "the fall of apparel."

A report released by Credit Suisse this week found that the growing accessories market is stealing away mall sales from fashion apparel at a significant rate. 

The actual numbers, as reported by WWD: From 2007 to 2012, apparel sales at American malls had a compounded annual growth rate of 0.8%, compared to a 5% growth rate during the same period for accessories and beauty products; apparel lost two points of its share of mall sales (down to 58%) while accessories gained five percentage points (up to 32%).

We've been reading about the declining apparel market and booming accessories sector for a while. Last year, The New York Times reported on the shift, attributing the uptick in accessory sales to a more frugal recession-era buying public. Both WWD and market analyst IBISworld support the view that the lower point of entry makes accessories well-suited to the stagnant economy and lackluster consumer confidence.

I find the Great Recession argument deeply unsatisfying. The total revenue for all apparel (including accessories) in the United States was $482 billion last year. According to the EPA, we throw out 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year. Yes, apparel is not performing according to the wishes of executives and market analysts, but — and especially in the wake of the tragedy in Bangladesh, where the death toll has maxed out at 1,127 — it seems crazy to worry whether people are buying enough stuff. 

The current "hot" accessories market has been in the works for the past couple decades, from when fashion companies repositioned themselves as global brands. In Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, a representative from BETC Luxe, a creative strategies agency, tells reporter Dana Thomas how Tom Ford's success at Gucci in the 1990s created a model for accessories-based revenue which essentially made clothing sales irrelevant to major fashion brands: "[Ford] made beautiful dresses, but he always stuck a great bag on them. How many $2,000 white satin gowns are you going to sell? Luxury brands know that clothing is a loss. The bag is the introduction to the brand. Even if it's a ready-to-wear ad campaign, what you're really selling is the handbag. Thanks to Tom Ford, pret-a-porter is the decor for the accessory."

In its Annual Report for 2012, H&M posted a 29.76% increase in revenue over the past year. A 2010 report by New York's Economic Development Corporation called Fashion.NYC.2020 showed similar growth over a multi-year period for other fast fashion outlets like Forever 21, Uniqlo and Zara.

Clearly, people are buying clothes. We're just not buying as many from companies that are secretly just trying to get us to buy sunglasses. 

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Link Buzz: Anne V for Elle Russia; Beyonce for H&M Magazine

Anne Vyalitsyna for Elle Russia by Asa Tallgard

Anne Vyalitsyna for Elle Russia by Asa Tallgard

  • Orange you glad there's a camera lens, a layer of Photoshop and a computer screen standing between you and Anne Vyalitsyna's lipstick?  [DesignScene]
  • Taylor Swift's Peter Pan collar top: Her cutest look ever or just another cute look? [FabSugar]
  • Dior's Resort 2013 collection was designed by Raf Simons so surely you either LOVE it or HATE it. [Fashionologie]
  • Here's a slideshow of 20 brunette celebrities that have dyed their hair blonde because it's Monday and I'm a dreamer. [BellaSugar]
  • Tracy Reese did more design things for Anthropologie and it went well. [SheFinds]
  • Now even fancy French tea companies are trying to get in on the BB Cream craze. [Fashionista]
  • Beyonce's on the cover of H&M Magazine Summer 2013 because Barack Obama was busy being overexposed. [Forums]

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Hanne Gaby Odiele Wears Romance Was Born, Dion Lee and Ellery in Jasu’s Latest Campaign

If you thought Hanne Gaby Odiele would be ranked higher than #34 on, it’s probably because she has a face you can’t stop looking at and a mind-altering wardrobe and legs that are out of proportion to her body in the best way possible. Hence why she’s covered all the coolest magazines and walked for designers including Valentino, Saint Laurent Paris, Balenciaga, Versace and Prada.

So props to the people behind forward-thinking Australian retail platform Jasu, who have tapped the Belgian superstar to front their AW2013 campaign. Hanne Gaby was in town to take over Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in April, which probably made things easier, but it’s testament to the pulling power of this relative newbie in the online retail game.

In the campaign, Hanne Gaby wears bits and pieces from all the top dogs of Australian fashion. Girl looks good in everything, but in elegantly futuristic separates by Ellery, Romance Was Born and Dion Lee she kind of really is the new frontier of fashion. And since Jasu exists on the Internet, you can too — if it’s not currently the wrong side of pay week. 



Images: EVH PR

The Buzz Forum Buzz

Vogue Spain June 2013 Fails to Excite with ‘Boring’ Anja Rubik Cover (Forum Buzz)

Vouge Spain June 2013 - Anja Rubik

Many June 2013 covers that have been released so far have resonated well with tFS forum members. Vogue Spain, however, is not getting our rave reviews. The cover, shot by Giampaolo Sgura and featuring Polish top model Anja Rubik, is reminiscent of a vintage Richard Avedon image of Lauren Hutton, as vogue28 and kokobombon pointed out. Forum members weren't fond of the colors and each seemed to have additional complaints about the cover image.

Congacon didn't like the pose, the clothes and Rubik's facial expression: "Her expression and the clothes don't match. It is supposed to be a sexy cover and she delivers a confused and dumb look. It would have been a nice cover if she could give a better pose."

AL92 didn't like the plain brown background: "Anja looks very soft and gentile but the colour composite used could have done with more thinking, especially that background." 

For justaguy the main issue is that Anja's eyes "look so sad and empty." Mat Cyruss simply found the cover "boring" and ForChicSake thinks that Vogue Spain needs to "mix it up with the models. Some Asian and Black model covers would be nice every now and then." 

While most members agreed that the cover was dull and boring, some loved it. Vogue28 commented, "I love everything about the whole cover. I couldn't be more happier about Giampaolo Sgura shooting cover stories for Vogue Spain now – I love most of his work. The fact Anja's on the cover is another bonus."

Rubik and Sgura have collborated for a Vogue cover before and the outcome was similarly disappointing back then, so maybe this duo just doesn't mesh well. I don't find quite as many flaws in the cover as some forum members do but would have to agree that this cover falls flat and is not on par with what other international Vogue editions have delivered this month.

Image credit: Facebook/Vogue Spain via tFS forums


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Is Coco Rocha the World’s First Digital Supermodel?

Coco RochaIf it’s new, digital and social, you can bet Coco Rocha is across it. Sass & bide had no issues about handing her the passwords to all their social media accounts for a week in January, and while I’m still struggling with Vine she’s got four million followers on something called Weibo.  

And while I’m still transferring documents to a USB stick then taking them to the closest FedEx, she’s printing her own clothes. As one of the digital and fashion luminaries to attend the inaugural Bespoke summit in Sydney, the Queen of the Internet wore an exquisite white beaded dress – designed by Iris Van Herpen and made by a 3D printer. She also uploaded a few behind the scenes Instagrams of a shoot she did on the day for Harper's Bazaar Australia, in which she wears clothes that both did and did not come from a 3D printer. 

Coco positions herself as the first digital supermodel, and not without reason. She’s been credited as one of the first in her profession to use social media to give herself a voice, and by doing so has given her career longevity. 

The summit was aimed at examining Australia’s role in the luxury industry, one which only a select few local designers have managed to infiltrate, and is the first time such a conference has been held in Australia. Other speakers included Nicky Zimmermann, Karen Walker, Josh Goot and sass & bide’s Sarah-Jane Clark and Heidi Middleton. 

Images: Coco Rocha's Instagram

The Buzz Latest News

Rooney Mara Tapped as the Face of Calvin Klein’s New Fragrance

Rooney Mara for Calvin Klein

Jean-Baptiste Mondino for Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein has just announced that it signed actress Rooney Mara to be the face of its new women's fragrance, DOWNTOWN CALVIN KLEIN, which will debut this July and presumably smell like all-caps.

The print ad (above) was photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino. He typically does remarkable work, but Calvin Klein is owned by a public company so don't hold him accountable for whatever stench of blandness you're picking up on. 

There's also a television spot, directed by real-life filmmaker David Fincher, who also directed Mara in her breakout role for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. (This is their second ad collaboration: Fincher shot the actress for a commercial promoting Epic RED camera, beloved by movie people, as a fashion photography game changer.) As the press release explains, "set in New York City, the short film portrays the multi-faceted life of a globally recognizable actress who always remains true to herself." So relatable — here, let me get my wallet out. 

Also from the press release:

“DOWNTOWN Calvin Klein is a fragrance for women that live by their own rules,” said Catherine Walsh, the SVP of American Fragrances at Coty Prestige, a woman who definitely knows a thing or two about living by her own rules. I'm being snide, but I have no tolerance for this jabber: Buying Calvin Klein perfume because you saw a Rooney Mara commercial only makes you a maverick on opposite day. And that's fine! Buy perfume, buy ALL THE PERFUME and spray it all over your body and walk around all day smiling to yourself because you smell like a true-to-herself globally recognizable actress living a multifaceted life. Just ugh, all the LIES. I can't. 

 “This campaign captures a woman with an original ‘downtown’ mindset – she leads a lifestyle that is authentic and defies expectations. We were thrilled to work with Rooney Mara for this campaign; her individuality and formidable talent resonate with the incredible legacy of women who have been captured in Calvin Klein advertising over the years.”

Other actors who have modeled for Calvin Klein include Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson, Andie MacDowell (it sure seems like I missed out by not being alive in 1983), Alexander Skarsgard, Zoe Saldana and Diane Kruger.

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