Tapping Into Trends

Jewelers need to pay attention to runway and red carpet trends that people are talking about and relate them to their products to help consumers develop their own style. There is a tremendous amount of media devoted to fashion, especially celebrity driven that jewelers should tap into.

“The visibility is incredible, especially with the added immediacy and reach of social media,” says Michael O’Connor, jewelry stylist to the stars and Reelz Channel style correspondent. “When a celebrity wears it on the red carpet, runway or around town, the coverage takes the trend to a massive audience, pushing it exponentially. Fashion has a trickle down effect and consumers have no choice but to follow what’s happening.”

Follow Pantone
Pantone is a wonderful resource for colors that will be popular in seasonal apparel and accessories, as well as other consumer products that people will be talking about, hails O’Connor. “The most important thing jewelers can do is to look to fashion. Jewelry is the ultimate accessory and it needs to work with what’s happening in fashion to be relevant.”

For Spring 2016, the Pantone palette consists of softer, comforting tones, with brighter, vivid hues that offer respite from the daily grind and our 24-7 obsession to be connected. “Colors this season transcend cultural and gender norms. Vivid brights give way to excitement and optimism, though quiet stability prevails in the palette,” tells Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. Because our culture is surrounded by so much uncertainty, she sees desire continuing for colors that transport us to happier places where we can unwind.

The top 10 Pantone colors for 2016 include softer, comforting hues like blush Rose Quartz, creamy Peach Echo, sky blue Serenity, and aqua-infused Limpet Shell; along with richer, more vibrant tones like maritime Snorkel Blue, springy Green Flash, crimson Fiesta, and sunny Buttercup. The ideal transitional neutrals to round out the mix are earthy Iced Coffee and delicate Lilac Gray. For the first time since Pantone hailed a Color of the Year in 2000, two colors were named for 2016: Rose Quartz and Serenity.

“We realize consumers see the Pantone colors everywhere, from fashion to makeup to home design,” says Todd Wolleman, Color Craft, New York. “With this in mind, we’re able to create strong product and color recommendations for our retail partners.” He hails stones of the moment: turquoise, morganite, and amazonite. Next to morganite, opal also is in demand cites Eddie Weiss for EMA Jewelry, New York, who says the trends bare out in the numbers. “Morganite falls in the color range of Rose Quartz and Peach Echo. Also popular for us has been Ethiopian opal, for its outstanding brilliant flashes of color, revealing many of the hues in Pantone’s palette.” Other gem favorites in popular blue, green and blush tones include sapphire, aquamarine, tourmaline, peridot, and rose quartz.

Runway Design Directions
Fashion trends influence how people accessorize and also play a part in jewelry trends themselves. Design details trending on the runways for Spring 2016 that are also showing up in jewelry include lace and weave, pleats and ruffles, flora and fauna, architecture and geometric patterns.

“One of the biggest trends shaping up for the season is geometric designs in a variety of renditions,” cites Amanda Gizzi, director of public relations and special events for Jewelers of America. “There are pieces with repetition of patterns, but with more fluidity like lace, but in more structured geometric designs like cubes. Design concepts are flowy and tend to feature cutouts that form negative space.”

Linear designs convey a taller, thinner look that’s great for layering, notes Atlanta-based jewelry designer, Sara Blaine, a Benchmark partner. “This is what all women want! Mixing different lengths with different patterns and textures to create their own style.”

O’Connor hails floral a staple of spring fashion, but for 2016 it’s showing in unusual color combinations, the kind that make you stop and say, “I wouldn’t have thought of that, but it looks great together.” Animals, birds and nature-inspired objects that have a fun vibe are important as well.

On the Red Carpet
While the runway focuses on fashion, the red carpet shows the latest fashions accessorized to create cohesive style statements. In fact, Google research cites women are taking style cues from celebrities, searching after major awards shows for popular dresses and accessories with an eye to buy. One of the most dramatic impacts of celebrity culture on consumer behavior, says Euromonitor International, is greater emphasis on personal appearance and self-image.

Top trending directions developing on the red carpet for some time now include bigger, bolder, more colorful looks; mystical/spiritual/tribal themes; geometric lines and vintage silhouettes; and body jewelry.

Sanjay Kothari, CEO for Interjewel, New York hails diamond the perfect gem on and off the red carpet, with its high refractive index that casts just the right amount of sparkle and shine. Among the most memorable diamond jewels spied in 2015 was on Naomi Watts in a diamond snake collar by Bvglari, which she was seen wearing forward and backward at the Golden Globes and Cannes Film Festival. “Diamonds make the perfect companion to any outfit, day or night. One of few neutral gems, diamond is the go-with-everything accessory.”

But some of the most unforgettable looks, says O‘Connor, feature bold color in stones like ruby, emerald, and sapphire; fancy color diamonds, especially yellow, champagne, and black; and gems such as tourmaline, spinel, topaz, and turquoise—as in Cate Blanchett wearing turquoise, aquamarine, and diamond clustered collar by Tiffany at last year’s Oscars.

Moreover, pearls continue to intrigue Hollywood royalty, and recent red carpet affairs have not disappointed with stunning pearl embellished dresses (think Lupita Nyong’o at the Oscars in Calvin Klein dress made of more than 6,000 pearls), and pearl jewelry among the biggest standouts. Especially popular are strands that mix colors like ombre looks; baroque shapes in a variety of designs, bold drop earrings and cocktail rings, and bracelets that can be stacked, cites Fran Mastoloni of Mastoloni, New York, who notes that layering continues to be important in bracelets and necklaces. “Pearls pair well with other design elements and are easy to wear with other jewelry. The versatility factor is huge.”

Kothari rates hoop earrings a style staple too, in linear, elongated designs with diamonds and mix of metals, as well as stackable rings and bangles. “The art of stacking remains a key trend, especially with diamond eternity bands, bangles, and line bracelets.” But O’Connor expects bold open cuffs to be the next big thing in designs with negative space that shows skin.

Track & Translate
Savvy jewelers who work off of cues from the runways and red carpets can excite and inspire consumers to shop for their own version of glamour.

Involve your staff in tracking trends, advises Gizzi. “Find sales associates with a passion for fashion to follow and report on trends and how they relate to your merchandise and clientele at regular meetings. Scour coverage of fashion shows, watch major red carpet events, follow Pantone’s predictions, and read jewelry trade and consumer lifestyle magazines that summarize what’s happening.” According to business.com, Feedly, Pulse, Moz Top 10, and Hacker News are good news and trends aggregates for any industry.

Show and tell the latest trends, says Rebecca Foerster, executive vice president, strategic planning and marketing for Leo Schachter Diamonds, New York. She advocates jewelers buy runway and red carpet images that demonstrate trends that speak to their products. “Use images in store and online to engage conversation. It’s one the easiest ways to further your cache as a style expert.”

Merchandise products from a story perspective, not by category, says O’Connor. “Find different ways to help your customers visualize the possibilities as they relate to outfits and occasions. Consumers love to see things put together.” To that end, consider promoting a trunk show that curates top trends spied at New York fashion week or red carpet event like the Oscars. Most importantly, teach customers how to layer their jewelry, tells Blaine. “Consumers want to know how to look at their jewelry to wear in ways that speak to their signature style.”

Push content relating top trends to your products to help consumers achieve their favorite looks. Mark Hanna, CMO for Richline, New York advocates jewelers invite guest editors, bloggers and style experts to write on fashion and accessory trends to broaden their outreach. Gold jewelry and wearable tech are two major categories Richline blogs about using these tactics. Ask sales associates to blog about products they love too, and pick designs they deem must haves for the season to build their style bona fides.