NEW YORK — Aritzia is getting into the handbag game.
For fall, the retailer will introduce two separate handbag lines: Six Eleven and Auxiliary. The move signifies the company’s push to become a true lifestyle brand and retail destination. “Our portfolio of brands got to a point where our customers wanted the next thing,” said Verna Brown, the firm’s merchant director. “Bags seemed like the natural progression to evolve the looks.”
The firm decided to launch two lines simultaneously in order to target the maximum amount of potential customers. “We saw the need for two different types of aesthetics going on in the market,” said Jason Lyn, creative director of accessories. “It could even be different aspects of one girl’s life — the bag she takes to work versus the bag on her off time.” RELATED STORY: Aritzia Holiday 2014 >>
Lyn described Six Eleven as the “sportswear inspired” collection. “It has a little bit more of a downtown feel,” he said. “A lot of the silhouettes were inspired by classic sports silhouettes and bags. We just made it more refined and modern.”
Six Eleven styles include a minimalist backpack, a duffel bag and a classic clutch, done in napa leather with matte surface treatment. Each style features utilitarian hardware and zipper accents, and comes in black, tan or blue.
Auxiliary offers customers a bag for night. “Auxiliary is a little bit more polished,” said Lyn. “It’s more on-trend, a little bit more minimal and has an appreciation for details.” The Auxiliary collection features three styles inspired by vintage luggage with modernized details, such as painted edges and sleek hardware. Colorways include black, stone, wine and forest, crafted in glazed calf leather and American steer hide.
Prices for Six Eleven range from $200 to $400, with Auxiliary priced slightly higher, at $300 to $600. Producing a quality product under $1,000 was a main priority for both Lyn and Brown.“We saw a ton of people under the $100 range and a ton of people over the $1,000,” said Brown. “There were very few players in the middle.”
The decision to launch an in-house handbag line, rather than carry outside designers, helped to keep costs down without sacrificing quality. “We are going directly to our customer,” said Brown. “We are not paying a middle man who then has to sell the product for three times the price. We are able to achieve an elevated, top-notch product and go directly to our customers. We saw $200 to $600 as a price point where most girls don’t think that hard about spending.”
Both lines will hit stores on Monday. The brand declined to give sales projections. Aritzia currently has 60 boutiques across North America selling 14 exclusive ready-to-wear brands, as well as select pieces from brands such as Levi’s, Mackage, Citizens of Humanity and J Brand.
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