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Since they couldn’t find the perfect exotic skin handbags for themselves, childhood friends Ambrosi Lim and Abrianna Jang decided to make their own.
This story first appeared in the October 13, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We traveled to Paris and Milan, we searched all over for exotic skin bags for ourselves,” said Lim. “But they were all so small and boring.”
So Lim, who graduated from Parsons The New School for Design with a degree in design, called on her skills and tapped Jang to create Ambrosi Abrianna. The New York-based brand is centered on oversize bags made of python, crocodile and ostrich. Retail prices start at $12,000 and climb to $50,000. The average price point is $25,000 for the Sophistica, and there will be one-of-a-kinds, such as a white crocodile bag covered in 24-karat gold leaf with diamond-flecked hardware.
No expense was spared at the company’s Midtown Manhattan showroom. Inside its dark walls is a showroom made of glass walls that display the array of the 27 silhouettes. Only employees are allowed in the room, which has temperature, light and humidity controls. Anyone who wants to handle the bags must don a pair of satin or velvet gloves as they sit on the crocodile covered table. The in-house look book is covered in crocodile and cost $2,000 to produce. Lim, who is a recreational golfer, even created crocodile and ostrich golf bags.
It was important to Lim, whose background is in advertising and merchandising, for every part of the brand to reflect her and Jang’s style. Lim is chief executive officer and co-creative director, while Jang, who splits her time among New York, Milan and Seoul, is president and co-creative director.
And, despite the growing worries over the global economy, the duo isn’t concerned about launching such high-priced products in a possible recession. “Even if the economy is really bad, exclusive items will always be in demand,” Lim said.
Robert Burke of Robert Burke Associates, a consultancy based in New York, said while there will always be the superwealthy customer with no limitations, “it’s not an ideal time to launch an uber high-end accessories brand.”
“People will ask if it is psychologically the right time to be carrying $20,000 and $30,000 bags,” said Burke.
Lim declined to offer sales projections, saying it was too early to make a forecast. There are plans to sell the collection privately through the showroom, trunk shows and a handful of doors in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Dubai.
The Italian-made bags are oversize and done in an eclectic color palette.
Ambrosi Abrianna is joining an already ripe category of exotic skin accessories brands. Nancy Gonzalez, which is distributed in Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, to name a few stores, offers more accessibly priced crocodile, lizard and python bags. Sang A offers modern, geometric bags in exotic skins that sell at Kirna Zabête and Takashimaya. Jennifer Alfano, Kara Ross and Carlos Falchi are also among the players in the segment.