Designers - complete with accessories

Accessories used to be fashion's poor relation - now they are the affordable face of designer-ware.

Anya has, Bill is and Lulu is just about to; open shops that is. Not that unusual in itself, except that Anya Hindmarch, Bill Amberg and Lulu Guinness are handbag designers. And while shops which sell bags are common place, shops which sell designer-made bags are something new.

"There have always been designer hat shops," says Anna Harvey, deputy editor of Vogue, "but bag shops, no. There have been designer bags: Hermes, Gucci, Chanel. But there's no Mr Hermes or Mr Gucci, just a stable of designers. An independent bag designer setting up shop really is quite unprecedented."

The accessory has finally earned its lace in the high street pecking order. Accessories like hats and scarves used to be fashion's poor relation, slotted in around the edges of a designer's show. But accessories are now big business. Accessorize, the high-street chain specialising in hats, scarves and bags opened its first door in Covent Garden in 1984. It now has 52 shops nationwide and plans another thirty for this year.

Accessories have become more than mere afterthoughts. In the sixties and seventies, scarves were wrapped around hips, tied around heads and turned into bikini tops. They were cheap and versatile. Now, they are made from exquisite fabrics, and cost a fortune - anything from pounds 80 to over pounds 500.

The first scarf designer to make a name for herself was Georgina von Etzdorf. "Dior, Jacqmar and Liberty scarves at various times have been coveted," says Anna Harvey. "But Georgina is a person, not a brand name and there's a difference."

A Camberwell School of Art graduate, von Etzdorf started designing 15 years ago and was the first designer to work with printed velvet and devore. She now has two shops in London - in Burlington Arcade and Sloane Street. Sue Holmes, the scarf buyer for Liberty confirms von Etzdorf's status: "Ten years ago customers would come in and ask for a scarf, now it has to be a Georgina von Etzdorf scarf." Harriet Anstruther and Neisha Crossland, the next generation of designers specialising in scarves, are the names to watch and are already hugely popular.

Name dropping is now quite the thing in Liberty's hat department "Lots of customers come in looking for Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones hats," said the sales assistant, "and not just those who are off to Ascot. It's amazing how many people have heard of their names." And can afford the prices.

Although there have been well known milliners in the past, few have enjoyed the fame Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy now enjoy. Their styles are very different; Jones' hats are simple, understated with strong colours and start from pounds 50 and go up to pounds 500; Treacy's are intricate, flamboyant and eccentric, and start at around pounds 400. They both have their own shops, international clientele and the attention of fashion magazines.

The economic climate, says Caroline Darke, a lecturer in accessories at the Cordwainers College, has also helped raise the profile and desirability of accessories. "Designer clothes have become so expensive, people spend money on accessories because they are relatively affordable. A beautiful hat, handbag or scarf lasts a lot longer than an outfit which can date very quickly."

The fact that Lulu Guinness' Florist Basket (pounds 225), a Bucket bag in black satin with red rose buds on the lid, is soon to be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum confirms Darke's assertion that a bag is no longer just something to stick your purse in: "It's a fashion statement. Take the rucksack. People wear them regardless of what they need to carry. Hiking, most definitely, is not on the agenda."

Hats are the same. Squashy velvet hats, streetwise Rasta caps, skateboarders' "Beenie" bobblehats and fleece pull-ons are now widely worn for reasons other than head warmth. There was a time when everyone wore hats, and not just for weddings. Then, from the Fifties, demand fell and by the Seventies, many hat manufacturers had gone out of business. Christy's, Britain's oldest surviving hat making company, established in Stockport in 1773, survived this lean period by making riding hats. Now, says Roger Hulme, factory manager, demand is picking up. "Youngsters are wearing hats again. I saw some lad roller-blading down the street the other day wearing a bowler."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

    £13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering