MILAN — Leveraging a 20 percent increase in its handbags division over the last two seasons, footwear designer René Caovilla is investing in the category with an expanded, dedicated design team.
“Handbags are working really well for us and our customers are increasingly asking us also for this accessory,” said Caovilla.
More daywear models will be added to the brand’s iconic feather and Swarovski styles.
“We realized our handbags have as much draw as our shoes,” said Giorgia Caovilla, company vice president and daughter of the founder.
The designer said the handbags will be in line with the finely crafted footwear line, made by hand in Italy and detailed with precious embellishments. The average shoe price retails upward of $1,000.
At the same time, the company is venturing into new markets and expanding its retail network around the world. In July, the brand opened its first store in Venice.
“At long last, we finally found the position we wanted and it wasn’t easy,” said Caovilla.
Located next to Hermès, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, the store is steps from the city’s main square, the postcard staple Piazza San Marco.
“It took patience and a dose of good luck,” said the designer, whose company is based in Fiesso d’Artico, between Padua and Venice.
By 2010, Caovilla plans 20 stores around the world. In addition to Venice, there are boutiques in Milan, Rome, Paris, London, Tokyo, Dubai, Beverly Hills, Palm Beach, Fla., and Porto Cervo, on Italy’s island of Sardinia. The company opened its second U.S. store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills this spring. Giorgia Caovilla said the boutique offered great visibility and had strong sell-throughs.
“American customers get us and they are more daring than Europeans,” she said. “They are confident enough to wear high heels and jeweled shoes during the day, [unlike] many Europeans.”
A store in Bal Harbour, Fla., will open in the fall, and another is set for 2011 at Las Vegas’ new $9 billion CityCenter mall.
Units in Saudi Arabia and Moscow will open this year and boutiques in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore in India are slated for 2009. Caovilla said the firm worked on expanding its wholesale distribution two years ago, but shifted the focus to its own retail units. That said, Caovilla added that department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus are considered expanding distribution of the brand.
“My dream is to open a store in New York,” she said, adding that the company does “not want to expand too much, but rather remain a niche label.”
Caovilla said the company cannot compete with giant conglomerates in advertising spend, and rather relies on word of mouth — and a little help from celebrities, such as Uma Thurman, Carrie Underwood or Felicity Huffman, who have worn styles from the brand.
The Venice store is modeled as a 1700s Venetian palazzo, with tapestries, tables with gold-leaf motives, brocade upholstering and Chinese vases — all authentic pieces that belong to the designer’s personal collection.
Next year, Caovilla will open a museum at the firm’s headquarters, displaying 3,000 archival pieces. A book on the designer’s work and inspirations is also set for publication in 2009, a big year for the company, as Caovilla said he will launch a costume jewelry collection and a fragrance.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty