Devi Kroell Gets Back Into Exotics

The designer — who in May 2010 launched Dax Gabler — will today unveil her first exotic handbag line under the label.

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NEW YORK — Devi Kroell is giving her consumer what she wants.

This story first appeared in the December 9, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Kroell — who in May 2010 left the namesake brand she founded in 2004 and launched Dax Gabler, a contemporary apparel and accessories collection — will today unveil her first exotic handbag line under the label by way of her new online home, daxgabler.com.

“I’ve gotten so many requests from customers, friends and retailers asking me to please start making exotics [again]. You have to listen to your clients,” Kroell said of the limited edition concept, which is exclusive to the site. “I want to keep it focused and stay with things I feel strongly about.”

While Kroell maintains that Dax Gabler is not an exotic line (wares she showed during New York Fashion Week earlier this year ranged from $590 for footwear to $1,490 for a knit coat), she will continue to create exotic pieces in future collections because there’s been such a large demand for them.

Offerings consist of nine styles — including a drawstring bucket bag, several tote variations and three clutches with the brand’s signature rectangular clasp and rubberized brass finish. The range is priced considerably lower than her original line, and Kroell loyalists (and hopefully a crop of new customers) can buy into the line for just $790 for the drawstring bag (versus the more-than-$4,000 prices often found in the designer’s former line). The most expensive bag from Dax Gabler is the No 5 shopper — a tote in black and yellow python on a matte black python base that costs $2,190, but smaller totes and all clutches are $1,990 and $1,490, respectively.

Exotic skins are where Kroell made a name for herself in the accessories category seven years ago — but this time around, the designer is adamant about creating high-quality product with an approachable price point.

“Prices can’t be what they were in 2006, and they have to be adjusted for today’s market. People don’t want to spend all that money anymore,” Kroell said. “It’s a lot of research to keep the prices down, because the market is very competitive, but I’m finding ways to use python skins more efficiently.” She’s also developing ways to manipulate the skins that aren’t as labor intensive and use simpler methods of construction.

In addition to a “Must-Have” section that Kroell curates herself, and a new concept that will launch every eight weeks, daxgabler.com is available in three languages — English, French and Chinese — due to the designer’s strong fan base in China. “It’s also one of the biggest luxury markets right now, so I thought it was very important to think forward and offer the site in Chinese.”

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