Start Running

If opportunity knocks but once, right now it's pounding on the door, and smart jewelers need to run—not walk—to answer it. The apparel industry (and, to a lesser degree, the beauty industry) has been beleaguered of late, giving jewelers an opportunity to fill a gaping hole. While the '90s trend toward casual offices wreaked havoc among suit makers, most of the reasons the apparel industry has taken a beating have nothing to do with rumpled khakis. One, big retailers' demands for pricing, markdown money, and charge-backs have squeezed manufacturers' margins to the bone and stifled creativity to the point where they're afraid to produce anything that isn't a proven winner. Two, the need to make numbers has cramped department store buyers' willingness to risk new, untried brands. Three, any real innovation in apparel design tends to be targeted to the junior and contemporary markets

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