Independent retailers are treated to a feast of creativity at IJL.
Exhibitors were doing brisk business on the first day of IJL as jewellers searched for inspiration for the critical Christmas sales period. The show is being held at a vital time for retailers, many of whom have delayed decisions on what stock to carry for this season until they have closely evaluated collections from the world’s leading brands.
Frank Wood, deputy chairman of the National Association of Goldsmiths and owner of Braithwates jewellers in York, spoke for the whole industry when he described the uncertainty that is gripping the high street. “Nobody knows what will happen this Christmas, which is why this show is so important,” he told IJL Show Daily yesterday. “The challenge for the exhibitors is to present the right products at the right price to attract retailers. Jewellers are looking for inspiration, and this is the perfect place to find it.”
The biggest crowds of the day gathered at the two Runway shows, at which stunning jewellery was presented by models walking the entire length of the Boulevard. The morning show was focused on gold, which is enjoying something of a renaissance as consumers recognise its enduring value. While some are still designing in solid gold, vermeil and gold presented as a gem are themes increasingly popular with brands as a way to offer the look without the price. Shaun Leane, Jayce Wong and Missoma were among my personal highlights.
The afternoon catwalk show was even more luxurious, as Daily Telegraph fashion editor Hilary Alexander, showcased her favourite designers at the show. Advalorem, Daisy Knights, Kleshna and Mark Milton were among an eclectic mix that could not fail to inspire the watching crowds.
With all of the beauty at IJL, it is easy to forget that this is a serious business exhibition and that the livelihoods of thousands of jewellers rely on sourcing the right mix of jewellery and watches. Away from the glamour of the Boulevard runway shows, substantial orders were being taken, particularly with some of the most price-competitive exhibitors. For example, Oro, which offers clearance jewellery, had jewellers and designers three deep at its counters, searching for a bargain.
Designers have also recognised that they need to create collections that fit with budgets of consumers who are feeling their disposable incomes squeezed. A graphic example, in fact almost a metaphor for the state of the market today, is Bjørg, which has taken its iconic jewellery designs and reworked them so that they can be sold at lower price points. Some pieces have been made smaller, some have been made with cheaper metals and stones. Thankfully, they remain stunning works of art from which jewellers will continue to profit.
Likewise, Jeremy Hoye, who traditionally designs in precious metals, is using IJL to launch his first range of costume jewellery under the sub-brand Hoye Polloy. The style and quality is the same, but now jewellers have the option to sell collections at different price points.