By  on August 8, 2011

NEW YORK — Adrienne Vittadini is gearing up for a major handbag push with the introduction of two new categories and a new hire.

The brand has unveiled a 40-piece handbag collection with new licensee Franco Franchi, which will have a spring 2012 retail launch, according to Adrienne Vittadini brand president Mary Gleason.

With retail prices ranging from $195 to $395 — with a sweet spot between $195 and $225 — Gleason projects that the line can bring in as much as $2 million in wholesale sales for the brand.

The color palette consists of neutrals such as black, tan and white paired with shades of red, navy and chartreuse. Silhouettes include clutches, satchels, totes and oversize straw beach bags.

“We have so many great categories in accessories — footwear, jewelry and soft accessories such as gloves and scarves — and the missing piece was a strong handbag collection. We tried it twice and we weren’t successful in it, but I never gave up. It’s such an important component in rounding out the accessory category. It was finding the right partner,” Gleason said of the company’s third handbag attempt. The other two attempts were with different licensees.

She added that bringing former Accessories Magazine editor in chief Irenka Jakubiak on board as creative director for accessories was another way for the brand to focus its energies on the growth of the category.

Strategically priced on the lower end of what department stores are looking for, Gleason is keen on defining a place in the market for the brand. And while prices for raw materials such as leather might be mounting, an aesthetic based on mixing materials has helped the brand navigate around that. Gleason cited materials such as canvas and straw — used in conjunction with smooth, patent or perforated leathers — as key.

The company will later this month unveil the Adrienne Vittadini Travel Collection at retail with licensee Rugged Equipment, slated to hit department stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom for pre-fall deliveries. Prices start at $60 for a wallet and go up to $1,300 for a four-piece luggage set.

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