Accessories Council Inaugurates First Design Excellence Award Winners

Congratulations to all winners and finalists!

By Lauren Parker

At a swanky luncheon at the Plaza Hotel, the accessories industry turned out to honor its own during the Accessories Council’s very first Design Excellence Awards. The DEA is more than just an event to honor outstanding design and brand excellence, however. Keeping with the Council’s mission to increase awareness of accessories overall and brands in specific, finalists and winners alike receive tools to use at the wholesale and retail level, namely a trophy and logo for marketing and/or packaging purposes.

“We were thrilled overall and so proud of our finalists and winners, and we hope to see them using the seals they have earned,” says Karen Giberson, president of the Accessories Council. “We intend this to be a cornerstone event for the AC and we hope to see it grow each year.”

 Finalists were selected by The Accessories Council Board of Directors and the Accessories Innovation Committee based on the criteria of excellence in design, unique appearance and/or function, consumer needs addressed by-product, appropriate aesthetics, innovative materials or technology, market positioning and competitive performance, social images, emotional appeal, and sustainability. Once selected, a public vote determined the winners. Sponsors included Accessories Circuit, Donatello Arm, Launchmetrics, Marchon Eyewear, NANO, QVC/HSN and Swarovski. 


Kicking off the awards ceremony were two awards that looked across all accessories categories.

The Hall of Fame Award sought to recognize a single iconic product that has stood the test of time as determined by the Accessories Council Board. This went to Ray-Ban for its Original Wayfarer Classic. “Who can forget Tom Cruise wearing these iconic frames?” says Fabrizio Uguzzoni, president, Luxottica Wholesale NA, accepted the award, which, along with the sunwear and optical awards, was presented by Marge Axelrad, SVP/Editorial Director of Vision Monday.
The NPD Group took a deep dive into data for its statistically derived NPD Growth Driver Award, which went to Aimee Kestenberg for its Milan Bum Bag. NPD’s retail tracking service looked at dollar volume sales across bags, small personal accessories, luggage and watches. “This award recognizes the no. 1 item in the top growing category in these spaces for the year ending June 2019 and only widely distributed items were considered,” says Beth Goldstein, NPD Executive Director, Industry Analyst, Footwear and Accessories. “For this period, the top growth category was fanny packs, growing over 200% in our retail universe. The other category is backpacks, and Aimee Kestenberg was proficient in this as well.”

Winners in the following categories are as follows:

Eyewear (Optical):

Winner: Jimmy Choo for its JC228 style, made by Safilo.

Finalists included: ClearVision Optical’s Amazing; Covry Eyewear’s Chara Peony; Flexon’s Black Collection; Tura’s Mini 741001 BLS.

Eyewear (Sun):
Winner: Chloé for its Curtis CE1625 style, made by Marchon.

(Finalist runner-ups include: Atelier Swarovski Eyewear/style SK0240-P by Marchon; Fendi/style FF 0399/S by Safilo; Givenchy/ GV Shower by Safilo; and Randolph Engineering’s 23K White Gold Aviator Sunglasses with AGX Polarized Skytec Glass Lens.

Winner: Caleres/Dr. Scholl’s Shoes for its Herzog style

Finalist runner-ups include: Femmes Sans Peur’s Aurora Pump; Frances Valentine’s McCall Jeweled Velvet Heels; LSIL & Co.’s Joan Pointy-Toe Pump with Leopard Swarovski Crystal Soles; Sperry’s Men’s Gold Cup Handcrafted Maine Authentic Original Boat Shoe.

The award was presented by Erica Russo, Bloomingdale’s VP Fashion Director for Accessories and Beauty.

Handbags (Over $1,000):

Winner: Bentz for its “Jewel” bag

Finalist runner-ups include: 1 Atelier’s Convertible Belt Bag; Krenoir’s Kandie; Tribe of Two’s Urban Safari Mercury; Tyler Ellis’ Stella Handbag.  

The award was presented by Paul Jowdy, Chief Business Office and Publisher, WWD and Fairchild Live.

Handbags (Under $1,000):

Winner: Hammitt for its Dillon bag

Finalist runner-ups include: Jeff Wan’s Le Morne Lunch Box; Leigh Ann Barnes’ Gamechanger Collection; Lovard’s The Violin.

The award was presented by Paul Jowdy, Chief Business Office and Publisher, WWD and Fairchild Live.

Jewelry (Fashion):

Winner: Deepa Gurnani for its Catarina earrings

Finalist runner-ups include: Alex Woo’s Alex Woo x Smith & Cult Autograph Necklace; Bond Hardware’s Single Blade Ear Cuff; Swarovski’s Nirvana ring.

The award was presented by Erica Russo, Bloomingdale’s VP Fashion Director for Accessories and Beauty.

Jewelry (Fine):

Winner: Doryn Wallach Jewelry for its sapphire and diamond cocktail ring

Finalist runner-ups include: Alex Woo’s Alex Woo x Sugarfina Gummy Bear Necklace; Julie Lamb NY’s Freelancer Flexible Diamond Ring; KBH Jewels’ Diamond Magnum Orb Earrings; Marina B’s Titanium Pampilles Earrings with Opal. 

The award was presented by Jennifer Heebner, Executive Director, Cultured Pearl Association of America.

Social Impact:
Winner: Kamaria Jewelry for its Restore Dignity amulet

Finalist runner-ups include: Artisans of IQ’s Nolita Romani; Tembo’s Six Bougies Tote Bag; Novae Res’ The Jemison Minor; Tribe + Glory’s Empowered Necklace.

The Award was presented by Frank Zambrella, Accessories Council Chairman and President of Design Quadrant.

Soft Accessories:
Winner: Echo for its Tassel Rhapsody silk series scarf
Finalist runner-ups include: Haute Hijab’s Classic Ultimate Underscarf; Piccolo New York’s Asymmetry Poncho; Vivian Lou’s Class Weight-Shifting Insole for High Heels; Wanderings’ Joan Borinstein.

The award was presented by Elizabeth Wellington, award-winning lifestyle columnist, Philadelphia Enquirer

Tech & Innovations:

Winner: FFORA for its Essentials Suite for wheelchairs

Finalist runner-ups include: Monica Rich Kosann’s The Locket Bar; Postlamode’s Postlamode App; Rose Rockers’ Rose Rockers.

The award was presented by Lisa Morrissey, SVP, QXH, US Fashion Buying/Global Design and Sourcing

Travel & Luggage:

Winner: Vera Bradley for its Iconic Lay Flat Duffel

Finalist runner-ups include: Shamir’s Shamir Autograph Intelligence; Mejuri’s Travel Case; S’Well’s S’Well Eats.

The award was presented by Lisa Morrissey, SVP, QXH, US Fashion Buying/Global Design and Sourcing

Watches: Timex for its Celestial Opulence Automatic watch

Finalist runner-ups include: Bulova’s Grammy Automatic Watch; Daniel Wellington’s Classic Petite Melrose; Longine’s Legend Diver 42mm PVD Automatic.

The award was presented by Lauren Parker, Founder, Lauren Parker Creative Media and former Editor-In-Chief of Accessories Magazine.


To make the merchandise as accessible as possible, all DEA finalists and winners will be in-market during the critical Fall/Holiday 2019 selling season, available for purchase in the U.S. via retail stores, e-commerce, TV retail or direct marketing between October 1, 2019, and December 31, 2019. 



Noor Nanda