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They’ve become the go-to blog for bags, and now they’re translating those sensibilities into their own handbag line. On May 15, the duo behind the Web site Bag Snob — Tina Craig and Kelly Cook — will launch a bag line on HSN.
This story first appeared in the March 31, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The collection, called Snob Essentials, follows the duo signing Beanstalk Group as their licensing agent last year. The agency later sealed a deal with Artisan House to produce the entire line for two years, which will be sold exclusively in the U.S. to HSN for the spring 2014 season; it will expand distribution to other retailers for fall. HSN has already ordered 6,000 bags for the American market. The European e-commerce site Luisa Via Roma has ordered 700 pieces in all styles. The collection will range in retail price from $68 for a smaller bag to $108 for a tote.
For fall, the collection will feature a magazine tote, circle bag and shoulder bag, among others. Craig said it will be all about texture blocking — putting two different textures together, like faux pony hair and faux croc. The collection will also feature the brand’s signature quilting. It will range in price from $68 to $128.
Anne Martin-Vachon, chief merchandising officer at HSN, said, “Snob Essentials provides us the opportunity to broaden our reach, while offering current customers something that is distinctive and new. The line’s classic and modern silhouettes are affordable, trendy and functional — and exactly what our fashion customers are looking for.”
“Bag Snob’s power and credibility allows them to promote their brand, Snob Essentials, to a large, loyal following on all social media platforms,” Michael Stone, chief executive officer of Beanstalk, said.
“It’s almost a very selfish line that we made for us,” said Craig, who launched the Bag Snob blog in 2005. “We see thousands and thousands of bags every month because that’s our business. With this line we’re not trying to compete with Givenchy or Chanel or even Rebecca Minkoff. We want to be a great value to the 99.99 percent of women who shop at Zara or Forever 21, but those bags are now $150 dollars. We want to offer something to women for a great price.”
“We always said that money can’t buy you taste,” said Cook. “Obviously we’re bag snobs, but it’s unfortunate that meaningful designs are only at one set price point.”
The handbag line for spring will include crocodile-embossed backpacks in vegan leathers in gray and red, black-and-white paint-splattered totes and cross-body bags in pink and teal, with custom-made gold silver-plated hardware on all items.
Both Craig and Cook emphasized that while they wanted the line to offer value, it is not fast fashion.
“It’s a designer collection, and we’re serious about the business; we’re already showing our finished resort next week,” Craig said.
As for the design process, Craig, based in Dallas, and Cook, based in Los Angeles, relied heavily on Skype and FedEx-ing samples back and forth. They then met up in New York City twice a month for meetings.
The two began sketching earlier last year, sorting through samples in May, and went into production in December.
Though neither has a degree in fashion — both graduated with a business degree from the University of Southern California, where they met — they said they learned hands-on while working with DKNY in 2011 when they launched a joint collaboration with the brand.
Speaking of hardware, Craig said they focused their energy and resources to find the best they could, which was metal-plated in nickel silver and gold. For their bag line, they custom-designed the hardware to match every bag.
“When we look at bags, we always turn the bag inside out to see if the interior is superb, the stitching and the hardware — if it zips easily and is great, we know it’s worthy to be on our blog,” she said.
Come May 15, with Craig and Cook on HSN’s prime spot at 9 p.m. in front of 96 million viewers, the duo will see whether their designs have appeal.
“There’s absolutely so much pressure,” said Craig. “Every time I have meetings, people are always looking and asking what bag I’m carrying. But I feel like I have an unfair advantage being in this for so long, since we know so many and so many people are supporting us. We’re in this for the long haul, and it’s good to know that there are good people behind us.”
The two bloggers see the brand expanding into denim and jewelry, and perhaps even expanding from online to brick and mortar.
“I’d love to see a Snob Essentials brick-and-mortar retail store on every other block,” said Cook. “That’s the plan, that’s the dream.”