Shoe firms find accessories are fair game
Shoe firms find accessories are fair game NEW YORK — A number of established shoe companies — from volume to designer price points — have aggressively entered the accessory business in the past year, adding hosiery, handbags, belts and even fragrances consistent with their footwear styling.
These firms have learned accessories can extend their image to consumers, as well as expand their profit base, as long as they retain some in-house control and keep their branded footwear lines as a design base.
“There’s a danger involved here,” explained Engle Saez, director of merchandising, Timberland, Hampton, N.H. “If you start to expand too quickly (in accessories), adding strange products in any category that comes along, it is very easy to confuse the customer and turn them away. Accessories and footwear must look like they came from the same family,” he stressed.
Timberland test-marketed accessories in the U.S. and Italy several years ago to enhance its footwear presentation. With successful results, a more comprehensive collection was introduced to 18 U.S. department and specialty stores this past fall. Saez said those select retailers, which also sell Timberland footwear, will offer the branded coordinating collection of small leather goods, organizers, briefcases and luggage in the firm’s signature material, “Minibuck.” Trimmed with heavy-stitched waterproof leather and solid brass hardware, the line extends the footwear’s “sportsmen” influence, he said.
Consistency of style
He noted consistency of style is important to Timberland, which spent years developing its brand recognition. “All products are designed and developed in-house, with a comprehensive merchandising strategy that supports our core business: footwear,” said Saez.
For fall ’88, Timberland accessories will be available to other retailers. Besides its leather goods, Timberland has plans to introduce a handbag line next spring market, textiles and rugged outdoor clothing in the future, and is wear-testing a group of performance socks. Saez estimated 5 percent of Timberland’s total business will be done in accessories following their introduction.
Encore Shoe, Rochester, N.H., introduced a domestically produced accessory collection for its “Zodiac” footwear line just nine months ago. “Zodiac by Jamie,” a new devision for the firm, offers men’s and women’s belts, bags, boot straps and soon, small leather goods in embossed, distressed and acid-wash denim leathers.
Jamie Stuart, formally of “Just Jamie,” a casual handbag firm, contacted Encore president James Katz with the idea of uniting her design talent and established account base with the Zodiac label. “It’s a natural to match shoes and belts, shoes and bags,” Stuart said. “People are spending more money on accessories than on clothes.”
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