The Top 5 Spring Accessory Items for 2012 By: Connie Isidora Consumer tastes have always been a bit quick to change, but they've been kicked into an especially high gear with the introduction of broadband technologies, Fashion Week celebrations, and a window into the fashion world which has never been available before. While some trends often stayed consistent throughout at least a few consecutive seasons in years past, designers are increasingly altering their entire approach to consumer fashion roughly every three months in order to keep up with consumers' fast- changing tastes and style preferences. For spring 2011, a number of new and innovative accessory trends are taking hold that will require customers to be a bit unconventional and creative with their usual, comfortable styles, and it promises to be an exciting time to shop, dress, and accessorize in markets around the world. In particular, five trends stand out as the most important evolutions in spring style this year. 1. Patterns and Preference Have Gone Wild Animal print has traditionally been classified as "edgy" in most design circles, but that characterization is increasingly outdated as designers bring wild, animal and jungle-inspired prints to the mainstream in all kinds of accessories. This is evident in a number of handbags, wallets, purses, and clutches, which sport refined zebra, leopard, and cheetah prints that are often created with contrasting fabrics and textures. This produces a unique design which is not only eye- opening, but also intensely tactile, and it's a refreshing change of pace in the world of high fashion. 2. Very Big Accessories are Now the Norm There was a time when the typical necklace or bracelet was thought to be at its best when it was small, subtler, and refined, but hat time has passed as of 2012. This spring, shoppers are increasingly being confronted with very large, very bright, and very noticeable bracelets and accessories which are thick, wide, and extremely prominent on the wrist or the neck. It's a style statement that lends itself toward bold and unconventional looks and, in 2012, unconventional is the number one buzzword when it comes to creating accessories and other high-fashion pieces. 3. Speaking of Loud Accessories, Get Ready to Dress in Accessorized Layers Perhaps the biggest spring 2012 fashion trend, as exhibited at New York's 2012 spring Fashion Week celebration, is the layering of many accessory items with a single outfit. This is best done when using bracelets or necklaces, and many designers have shown a preference for low-hanging necklaces and bracelets which are a bit wider in width than the traditionally-understated arm accessory sported in years past. Once again, it's all about unconventional looks and off- beat appearances that are both high-fashion and intensely unique for each consumer. 4. The Big, Patterned Belt is Back (Was it Here Before?) There's no doubt that designers in recent years have shown a preference for retro fashions and those things which consumers gravitated toward in the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. As part of this effort to revive an often- disparaged era of high fashion, designers seem intent on bringing back very wide belts with very outrageous patterns. New York Fashion Week saw a number of designers debut belts which were several inches wide (and sometimes as much as six inches wide) with floral, argyle, plaid, and striped patterns in very bold, bright colors. This trend is best worn with solid-color clothing and dresses, making the belt itself stand out even more than it normally would. It's a loud fashion statement for the boldest and most unconventional of consumers, and it works pretty well across the board. If the 80s and 90s got anything right, it's fair to say that item would be the big, bold belt. 5. Handcrafted Accessory Items are All the Rage Handcrafted purses, bags, wallets, and even hats, are the subject of much adoration by consumers of all purchasing levels and fashion preferences. This trend has been coming in, very slowly, over the past several years, but it seems that the look is now here to stay. It's all part of what has been described as this decade's signature look: the shabby chic, independent designer appearance. The year 2012 looks to be one which, as mentioned earlier, defies conventions. To that end, consumers are increasingly opting for handmade fabrics and custom accessories which are marketed by independent online merchants and local, small-time designers who are selling their goods outside of major department stores and away from the gleam and glare of major designer boutiques. It's a surprising trend, especially in a label- centric, high-fashion culture, but it's one which is refreshingly unpretentious and quite welcome -- if not overdue. A Year of All-New Ideas of What's Normal and Good in Fashion Spring 2012 is one of the most surprising fashion seasons in the past few years, as it combines traditional fashion and design elements with unconventional approaches and consume-driven items made by local designers. That's a major departure from the normal, big-name designer preference of many consumers, and it's a trend which benefits both the consumer and the fashion industry's long-term interests at the same time.