Consumers are engaging with fashion accessories, including bags, small personal accessories, and luggage, that deliver functionality, luxury, or both, reports The NPD Group.
Luxury items have managed to keep the industry alive, as consumers view these products as worthy of the investment, but fashion accessories manufacturers and retailers also need to look at how consumers live and address a broader spectrum of needs, desires, and demographic life stages.
Despite overall declines in the nearly $1.8 billion fashion accessories industry, bright spots exist in the most functional and fashion-focused ends of the spectrum, as well as where the two worlds are converging.
Something new, different
Consumers are looking for something new and different. Over the past year, fashion accessories introduced between November 2016 and September 2017 drove the most incremental sales gains but represented just over a third of annual 2017 sales.
The consumer emphasis on function is apparent from the products that are exhibiting growth. Consumers are buying more of some items, like fashion backpacks, and spending more on others, like clutches and shoulder bags. On the other end of the spectrum, designer was the only brand segment to grow across the fashion accessories industry. Designer brands now account for 12% of industry dollar sales, following 10% growth in the past year.
“The move from acquisition and consumption to experiences, travel, and healthier living, is challenging the fashion accessories industry to remain relevant among competing spending opportunities vying for consumer dollars,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor at The NPD Group, Inc.
Luxury items have managed to keep the industry alive, as consumers view these products as worthy of the investment, but fashion accessories manufacturers and retailers also need to look at how consumers live and address a broader spectrum of needs, desires, and demographic life stages, Cohen explains.
Designer brands driving growth
Designer brands are driving growth in most categories, but multi-strap options are an example of functional solutions that appeal to a broader group of consumers.
Multi-functional/multi-strap options have grown to almost half of wristlet and nearly 40% of handbag dollar sales in the last year. Though still small in most other fashion accessory categories, multi-strap features are significant growth drivers wherever they exist — in some cases they are the difference between sales losses and gains.
“Everything should be a problem-solver in the mind of the consumer, and fashion accessories manufacturers are starting to embrace this,” adds Beth Goldstein, NPD’s accessories and footwear industry analyst. “Even luxury designer brands are adding more function into their products, and this convergence has proven to be an equation for even greater success among today’s fashion accessory consumer.”