We’ve just landed back in Boulder from an eight day selling spree around the Bay Area. We covered the place north to south from Napa Valley to Santa Cruz and east to west from Pacific Heights to Modesto. Here are a few leather accessories trends that caught our attention:
Genuine Leather Handbags With Fringe Are Still In
What seems to be out are the over the top all in fringe bags that were popular over the past several years. We loved seeing this as the fringe on our leather bags comes in the form of moveable/removable leather tassels and zipper pulls.
Vegan Leather Isn’t Catching On
Mid to higher end customers want real genuine leather. They love the look, smell, and feel that you just don’t get from fake leathers. Stores generally carry either fake leather or real leather and rarely carry both. If we walk in and spot a fake leather item, we walk out. Not being snobby, just not our customer/retailer.
Anything But Chinese Leather Accessories Please
This is another interesting observation that we’ve witnessed over and over. Customers don’t want Chinese leather accessories. They seem to realize and accept that there’s very little in the way of an American tanning or cut and sew industry so products necessarily come from other countries. Italian leather is most favored and Mexican made products are well accepted by the market also. What is definitely a negative is having “made in China” on your products. Retailers often ask us where our products are made within the first five minutes of our conversation. Once we tell them we use third generation tanners from Milan, Italy that relocated their operations to Mexico, they’re thrilled. “That’s great, Italian leather with the lower cost of production in nearby Mexico...so glad it's not from China” is what we hear.
Shoppers Are More Picky Than Ever
We’ve listened to retailers not just in California but across the country stress the fact that customers are very selective these days. They want high quality products at a great price and will stand in the store to check and compare online prices with what they see in a boutique. That tells us that we’ve got to deliver compelling designs constructed with high quality and be very consistent in our pricing. It's essential to resist undercutting our retail partners for an extra buck or two. These retail owners pay a high price in rent, fixtures, labor, and inventory to provide a wonderful shopping experience where customers can see and try on our products. We respect that and do everything we can to help them be successful. That means consistent pricing, great quality and design, excellent customer service and support, and a genuine relationship based on trust built up over time.