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The industry as seen by top designers.

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It's In The Bag

Why making purses is so hot.

by Ellie Joos (December, 2003)

Whether you are a fashionista or not, you may have noticed that the classic black or brown handbag looks tote-ally out of place in the sea of colorful, unique handbags that are currently the rage. From the high fashion designer boutiques and runways to mass merchandisers such as Target, handbags are it.

Making/decorating handbags has particular potential for retailers because almost every product in their current inventory can be used. Even scrapbook retailers can get involved by attaching/fusing photos to canvas purses and totes. Which products? How about paint, decals, fabric, bows, feathers, beads, pleated and ruffled trims, D-rings, zippers, and grommets, to name just a few. This accessory item is appearing in all shapes and sizes from purses to totes to clutches and backpacks.

But craft retailers won't have the market to themselves. The November issue of Gifts and Decorative Accessories reported on this trend and encouraged gift store retailers to capitalize on it by adding bags to their product mix.

Now is the time for craft stores as well to pull out all the stops and merchandise embellishments, faux fur, hardware, paint, beads, handles, and other decorative items with patterns and fabrics that lend themselves to making these creative, artful accessories.

It's not too late to create a display from products already on hand, make a great model or two, and suggest this idea to your customers as a great Christmas present. You may also want to contact the following companies who have new products or expanded their product lines to include all the creative elements you'll need for 2004.

(Comment: Below is just a sampling of the suppliers involved in the category. We suspect there will be many more at the winter trade shows.)

Amy Butler, Art of the Midwest www.artofthemidwest.com: Unique shapes and styles, lovely in Amyís fabrics designed for FreeSpirit Fabric.

Baglady www.baglady.com: Ornate brass and plated steel, books, patterns, and kits.

Bagworks www.bagworks.com: Totes, purses, backpacks, and the Additions line which has handles, straps, embellishments, fringe, eyelets, and studs.

Clover Needlecraft www.clover-usa.com: Great handles, decorative zipper pulls, D-rings, buckles, and Wood Create a Button, as well as a line of attractive patterns for making bags and totes.

Darice www.darice.com: Cigar boxes, wood boxes, beads, handles, hinges.

Embellishment Village www.embellishmentvillage.com: Charms, beads, yarns, and two bag pattern kits that include all the embellishments to complete each bag.

Indygo Junction www.indygojunctioninc.com: Lovely bag and tote patterns for soft fabrics, including wool felt.

Lazy Girl Designs www.lazygirldesigns.com: Totes, bags, and backpacks in interesting shapes and sizes.

And last but not least, Simplicity and McCall Pattern have patterns for bags and totes in all shapes and sizes.

While you are at it, donít forget shoes! Now called "jewelry for the feet", shoes have never looked prettier or more adorned with beads, flowers, ribbons, crystals, and other embellishments. Decemberís IN STYLE magazine featured the most gorgeous evening sandals ranging in price from $85 to $640! All it takes is a glue gun and some sparkling and colorful embellishments and you can create exciting holiday shoes (and sales) in no time!

(Note: Ellie is president of Ellis Joos & Associates, a marketing consulting firm. To read previous Designing Perspective columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column.)



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