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With a name perhaps more fit for a sitcom than a handbag line, George Gina & Lucy is making its way to the U.S. after rapid growth in Europe.
The Frankfurt, Germany-based firm — founded in 2004 by Nicolas Neuhaus, his wife, Nicole Bailly, and longtime friend Oliver Bruhn — is relatively unknown in the U.S., but in four years has zoomed to a $110 million company at wholesale, selling over 750,000 bags throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The bags have spawned a strong following, with fans blogging on the Internet over the latest colors and styles.
“We don’t really know why there’s so much buzz about us,” said Neuhaus. “Each person names something different they love about the bags. So for someone, it’s color, for others, it’s price point. It’s always something different for each person. Even for us, it’s a mystery.”
While Neuhaus declined to explain the story, if any, behind the label’s name, bloggers on Facebook and German shopping Web sites have created theories for its origin. One idea is that George, Gina and Lucy are really American prison inmates who sew the bags, while another notion is that the name comes from a Los Angeles-based love triangle. Still some think the names mean nothing at all and the title is just a ploy to keep people guessing.
“I’d really rather not say where the name comes from because we like that people are talking about us and care enough to discuss how they think the name originated,” said Neuhaus. “As long as people are talking, that’s a good thing.”
Retailing from $100 to $500, George Gina & Lucy handbags consist mainly of nylon and canvas totes and travel bags in an array of color combinations. The 33 styles include names such as Almost Saturday, Doyourthing and Day Dream, and are available at Les Galeries Lafayette in Paris, as well as smaller stores internationally. So far, U.S. distribution includes select Nordstrom stores and Fred Segal in Los Angeles, but Neuhaus expects to open freestanding retail locations throughout the U.S. and Europe in the next five years.
“Los Angeles and New York are…the most attractive cities for us to place George, Gina & Lucy, since they reflect the lifestyle we are incorporating in our collection,” said Neuhaus. “But on the other side, we love America and its people in general, and hope that we will soon sell our bags all over America.”
The firm is confident the bags will fare well in the U.S., given their affordable price points, although Neuhaus said he is toying with launching an exotic skin collection after touring some Italian tanneries that have offered to work with him.
George Gina & Lucy also produces sunglasses in-house and is eyeing a fragrance license in the coming months.