(Photos: 1. France Croco (Leather). 2. © Institut Français de la Mode. Lies Sockeel (Leather, Hall 3). 3. HCP (Leather)
“Today, accessories are mostly about conferring status, thus the increasing importance of capsule collections where fantasy and colour dominate.”
Claude Vuillermet, fashion director Première Vision Leather
“Accessories let us tell stories about ourselves. Shoes, followed by bags, are undoubtedly the most iconic and identifying elements in a woman’s wardrobe.”
Pascal Monfort, fashion consultant and sociologist
It ’s the end of the bag for all seasons, the boilerplate blacks and browns.
Today, an accessory is just as much about fashion as clothing is. Sometimes it’s the central element on which the entire image of a brand is built. This indispensable coordination with fashion trends is revolutionizing the chain of design/ distribution of accessories. The accessory is now the centrepiece of a new concept of a look with a strong identity value. The first to be affected, right from production, are the tanners. “The obedient technician is over! We changed jobs. Now we are very proactive creators,” said Michael Perez from France Croco (Leather). Their ambitious objective is to “push the boundaries of the impossible.“ And after examining a crocodile skin as soft as cashmere, there’s no denying the range of possibilities. “As fashion items, accessories are constantly being transformed, increasingly individualised. The accessory is by now indispensable,” adds the chief executive of France Croco. What are the repercussions of the new central role played by accessories? “The increased importance of colour, the rise of limited editions, the proliferation of finishes, and the development of transversal materials as an extension of apparel,” explains Claude Vuillermet, fashion director of Première Vision Leather, who adds that the luxury market is perfectly structured to welcome the new model. “All the most important brands have leathergoods at the core of their know-how and their strategy.” These findings are confirmed by Hans Foer, director of the Postgraduate Program of the IFM (French Institute of Fashion): “Accessories are no longer there just to make a clothing trend look good, they are full-fledged fashion vectors on their own. To see them is to want them.” As changeable as any trend object, accessories are more a matter of impulse than practicality or reason. Production schedules now follow the rhythms of the fashion season, but the increased importance of accessories is also influencing the image of brands. In photos from recent advertising campaigns, the bag doesn’t hesitate to steal the show from the woman, clearly reflecting the emergence of the new model of the musthave accessory, whose own name is synonymous not only with personalisation, but personality as well.
An artistic outlook
The first to move in this direction, tanner HCP (Leather) took on an artistic director, Camille Douek three years ago. Today, in its Atelier Singulier, it is proposing entirely personalised skins, like Tatoo, with an exclusive treatment and free motifs. “Now leather collections follow the fashion-season calendar, and propose strong themes that generate trends,” confirms the HCP designer.