NEW YORK — From their new space in the West Village here, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen walk the perimeter of the Elizabeth and James showroom admiring their latest endeavor — the brand’s first handbag collection.The expansive line — which includes satchels, shoppers, messenger bags, backpacks, hobo bags, cross-body bags, clutches, pouches and wallets —has been in the works for about 18 months, according to the design duo, who co-own Dualstar Entertainment Group, the parent company of Elizabeth and James and The Row.“We’ve always wanted to do handbags, but we really wanted to understand the market first and what was missing from the market and what’s already existing on the market,” Ashley said as her sister, listening intently, pushed aside her venti Starbucks cup.“We wanted the price point to be strong,” Mary-Kate said, jumping in. “The price point is below [Alexander] Wang and [Phillip] Lim but above Marc [Jacobs] and Tory [Burch].”“And Rebecca Minkoff,” Ashley interrupted. “We wanted these bags to be affordable.”RELATED STORY: Elizabeth & James Pre-Fall 2013 >>That focus on price may be somewhat surprising — after all, the Olsens’ luxe brand The Row carries bags that range from $2,000 up to $55,000 — but Elizabeth and James isn’t The Row.The contemporary line serves a different purpose, and the designers know that there is a void in the marketplace for bags with an average price point of $500. They also know that there aren’t many bags at that price that incorporate exotic materials such as Italian suede, leather, haircalf or New Zealand lambskin accented with stamped lizard trim.Depending on which of those materials is used, the Elizabeth and James bag line, which will hit stores in July, ranges from $125 to $395 for small leather goods and $395 to $625 for bags.“When it comes down to it our eye definitely goes to simplicity…and strong hardware and branding,” Mary-Kate said. “In this market, I think it’s important to offer color and special materials. The great thing about suede and haircalf is they take color so beautifully.”Calling the collection “sophisticated” yet “fashionable,” Ashley explained that while there certainly are “pops of color,” the palette is somewhat neutral and “wearable.”With the exception of two animal prints, a burnt red, a rich navy and a shade of bright cobalt, the bags range from neutral grays to beige and, of course, black, which is the color of choice and veritable uniform for the Olsens. (Both twins were clad in black from head to toe. Only their accessories skewed slightly from the color palette).“I love black,” said Ashley while modeling a black haircalf backpack over her long, drapey sweater. “I love backpacks, too.”As the sisters showed off their new creations, they emphasized the importance of the brand’s retail push, which is key to its next phase of growth.Jill Collage, president of Dualstar, echoed that sentiment, explaining that the brand will open its first retail store within two years. Expect two or three stores to be added soon after. Doors will likely open in New York, Los Angeles and South Florida, with Tokyo, Seoul and London as potential future markets for international expansion.Backstopping that growth will be a robust e-commerce site that is set to hit in 2014, along with an imminent fragrance launch with Sephora.Collage said that including its current offerings, namely apparel, footwear, eyewear and jewelry, Elizabeth and James’ business is up 20 percent year-over-year. Since its creation in 2007, the company has grown “sevenfold,” she said, noting that with the addition of bags, the brand has a “really nice accessories story” that can “sit with apparel.” The brand declined to reveal sales.“You have to offer product across a wide range of categories and tell the story that’s consistent across those categories,” Collage said when asked about the breadth of the bag line. “We wanted retailers to understand that we aren’t taking bags as an add-on and we’re not going after just one ‘It’ bag. We want our customer to get the look and feel of a designer bag at an accessible price.”
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)
@heriethpaul and @gracebol have a moment on the @victoriassecret fashion show 2017. See every look from the runway on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo) #wwdfashion #victoriassecret #VSFashionShow
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia