Stuart, who designs the collection and runs the division, continues to use her own accessory sales representatives to sell the collection to department and clothing store accessory buyers as well as the Zodiac shoe repts who exclusively work with footwear accounts.
El Greco’s Candies division, New York, offers a number of diverse accessories under licensed agreements. As a side to its established shoe business, they include socks, jewelry, watches, hair accessories in addition to apparel, personal care products and intimate apparel and sleepwear. All Candie’s products are designed to complete the Candie’s image, trendy junior styling at moderate price points.
“Because the products are all interrelated, we start the design process as a group,” said Sherry Korsgaard, El Greco’s fashion director. Korsgaard runs El Greco’s fashion offices, which serves as a central source for all fashion ideas that pass down to various licenses.
“Using our earliest shoe colors as the base, we work with each licensor. For instance, a nautical or striped footwear theme is translated to socks with anchors and perhaps anchor earrings.” Candie’s uses its coordinating product line throughout its advertising and public relations campaigns, customer presentations to individual accounts and even within its footwear showroom, where a display presents all available coordinating produce categories.
Like with like
“Shoe and specialty stores are the perfect place to display like products together,” said Korsgaard. “Accessories are more important than ever since customers are aware and sophisticated that this is the way to make a look, to be put together. Clever manufacturers are aware of this and making it possible; it’s now the retailers’ responsibility to offer it to customers in a well-coordinated way.”
Both Reebok International Ltd., Canton, Mass., and Nurse Mates by Lowell Shoe, Hudson, N.H., have taken an aggressive approach to accessories. Doug Arbetman, president of Reebok’s apparel division, said its athletic-styled accessory collections have become natural extensions to its shoes and clothing. Previously, Reebok produced a small group of sport bags; today, accessories account for 15 percent of the division’s total business.
The collections are styled to work together with Reebok footwear and apparel, and include men’s and women’s performance and fashion socks, sporty bags and visors. Wholesale prices range from $4-$35 wholesale. Presently, Reebok’s apparel sales force sells the accessories to department, sporting goods and shoe stores. But Arbetman foresees the shoe sales force carrying the sock line in the near future.
Will buy if it’s good
“Some call us a shoe company, some call us a fashion company, but we consider ourselves a design company, and customers will buy if they see it’s good,” Arbetman said.
At Nurse Mates, Peter Benanti, senior product manager for its new accessories and apparel division, banks on the firm’s established 47 percent market share of the nursing shoe business to carry the name into the accessory business.
The division already does $6 million in accessories, aiming at uniform, department and family shoe stores. Presently, hosiery, socks, watches, and slippers are offered. In July, a line of underwear will be introduced, first as a giveaway with the purchase of three pairs of hosiery.
“It’s important for us to carry our footwear’s quality and comfort story into accessories,” said Benanti. “Presenting Nurse Mates as a well-rounded resource strengthens our brand at point of purchase.”
Lowell offers two display fixtures with color “lifestyle” headers. “When we show a retailer an environment we’ve set up for the shoes and accessories, it makes it a lot easier for them,” said Benanti. “They like accessories but don’t have the time to deal with display problems.”