Bring fashion into the store every day

Fashion for fall and winter is warm-toned and feminine-themed, with a focus on versatility and the infusion of interesting materials, said Carrie Soucy, fashion editor for FACETS and JCK magazines, at the Fashion Facets seminar on Thursday.

The season’s hot color is purple. Jewelry manufacturers and designers are supplying beautiful creations in stones like amethyst and purple-hued sapphires to create the perfect accessories for the purple clothes that designers showed on the runways.

Fashion’s favorite neutrals, meanwhile, are warm tones—continuing the trend of the past several seasons. Richer and deeper this season, these neutrals are not the camel and cream colors of last year, but caramel, chocolate, and gold tones. For jewelry, that means a continued emphasis on yellow gold as the favorite metal for fashion-forward jewelry designs. To ease this transition, for retailers who have been selling white metals, many manufacturers are showing two-tone designs.

Favorite silhouettes are feminine and tailored, with an emphasis on necklines. This means a season that focuses away from necklaces and, instead, emphasizes practical interpretations of what celebrities have been favoring for most of this year—tailored, linear drop earrings and large—but open—bracelets.

Addressing the topic, “What Women Want,” Soucy advised retailers to consider practical designs—especially those that are versatile. From earrings with detachable drops to long chains that can be worn in several different ways, anything that offers women several looks—and, thus, more bang for the buck—is in demand. Another theme that women have embraced is that of “alternative” materials. Using such materials as leather, rubber, silk, or even wood in fine jewelry both lowers the price point and offers women that always desired “something different.”

Men want masculine design. With the men’s category growing—thanks in large part to younger consumers—jewelers should consider men’s pieces that are clean in design and incorporate materials perceived as masculine—like steel, titanium, and leather.

Being a fashion-forward retailer means more than just following trends like these, Soucy said. It also requires interpreting them and making fashion part of day-to-day business. She suggested “thinking globally and shopping locally” by taking fashion trends from the runways and red carpets but shopping local malls and stores to see how they’re interpreted. She also advised retailers to stay tuned in to pop culture—including movies and celebrity trends. To help battle the media overload, she said, ask customers what magazines they favor and use trade magazines, which summarize fashion specifically for a retail jeweler’s needs.

Armed with fashion knowledge, retailers should promote themselves as a local fashion expert and establish contact with local media, by offering, for example, to be interviewed after the Academy Awards. Finally, Soucy suggested thinking about fashion as it relates to all aspects of business. Examples include creating an environment that encourages women to try on jewelry without sales pressure and offering fashion consultations and makeovers.