Unlikely fashion mogul Carlos Santana is bringing a shot of rock ’n’ roll to the handbag market.
This story first appeared in the August 4, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The celebrated musician, whose eponymous shoe line at the Brown Shoe Co. Inc. bowed six years ago, has lent his name to a collection of totes, shoulder bags and purses designed and distributed by New York-based L & Leung Design Group. The debut fall collection, which consists of six groups, will hit Macy’s East and Macy’s West in October. The spring collection will be previewed by other retailers beginning today.
“As an artist, I’m inspired by style, color and passion,” said Santana, who has final approval on all the designs and whose old album covers, including some from the Seventies, inspired the collection. “I have found that it is wonderful to celebrate those qualities — which I most often express in my music — through fashion.”
“Carlos is all about making women feel good, so the collection had to be upbeat,” said L & Leung Design Group president Lisa Nunziata, who initiated the partnership with Santana after seeing his footwear in a department store. “I cold-called him, and we talked about a way to develop a line that reflects his taste. It was very important to Carlos that the bags be colorful.”
Nunziata is developing three different lines under the Santana name: the Carlos by Carlos Santana line, the fall collection, all made in fake leather; the Carlos Santana Gold line, which includes leather pieces and will be sold for spring 2009, and the Carlos Santana Platinum line, an as-yet-unproduced collection of specialty leather pieces. Carlos by Carlos Santana wholesales for between $35 and $65, while the Gold line will wholesale for between $60 and $135.
“My vision was that we were going to focus the whole collection on leather, but the economy changed my mind,” Nunziata explained of her decision to launch the collection with non-leather pieces. “Our customer wants to shop and look great, but she doesn’t want to spend $300 on a bag.” For fall, the bags are wrapped in eclectic prints including four-leaf clovers, embroidery, as well as solid colors, and in varied shapes, from a small square purse to a slouchy shoulder bag; one group features a studded guitar on black fake leather. For spring, the bags feature leopard prints and, true to Santana’s wish for color, plenty of multihued stripes.