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NEW YORK — The 168-year-old Mark Cross brand relaunched with Barneys New York just over a year ago, and in that time has managed to grow its business domestically, internationally and is in the midst of developing luggage and a complete men’s collection.
This story first appeared in the February 21, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In the U.S., the luxury handbags are exclusive to Barneys through the end of 2013 (the original exclusivity deal for 2012 was extended for an additional year). As of the fall 2012 season, the company opened up international distribution, according to Neal Fox, chief executive officer of Mark Cross.
Outside the U.S., the line is sold in 16 doors in Canada, England, France, Italy, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, Qatar and Lebanon. In London alone, Selfridges, Dover Street Market and four Matches locations carry Mark Cross, and Number 8 in Jakarta will start to sell the line this spring. Fox is also exploring opportunities in Daslu in São Paulo, Brazil, and, next month, the brand will show its fall collection during Paris Fashion Week.
“We began to build a significant amount of brand equity for a brand that was dormant for 13 years,” Fox told WWD at the Mark Cross showroom here, crediting swift growth to silhouettes that are “classically driven with a punch.”
Taylor Swift has been photographed several times toting around the Scottie in a medium brown, a vintage inspired top-handle structured bag named after F. Scott Fitzgeralds’ daughter, and a college-age Carrie Bradshaw’s black Scottie on WB’s “The Carrie Diaries” plays an integral role in the show.
“The Scottie is in the eyes of the beholder. Baby Boomers think it’s timeless and younger consumers think it’s new and fresh,” Fox said of the bags that come in punchy colors like vivid red, cobalt, baby blue, Kelly and forest greens, orange and yellow (in addition to neutrals like ivory, luggage and black). “They are not wearing logos [anymore] — it’s a revolution against logos.”
Along with the Scottie, Fox calls the Grace box style the “guts of what the core collection is all about.” It’s named after Grace Kelly, who had Gerald Murphy (the Murphy family owned the company from 1875 to 1955) design an overnight trunk for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film “Rear Window.”
The Scottie now comes in three sizes, including a $1,795 wristlet, a $2,195 small satchel and a $2,450 large satchel (for fall, a $1,995 cross-body Mini will be introduced). The Grace box, which retails for $1,795 and $2,095 for a small and large size, respectively, will come in snake for fall, with a range of crocodile, lizard and python options available for special order.
The other two styles in the core offering are the Madison, a classic satchel with rolled handles that comes in three sizes and retails from $1,595 to $2,095, and the $2,495 Porter, a more structured shoulder satchel that will hit retailers next month.
“We are positioning ourselves as the U.S.’ first luxury brand, and ultimately this means we need freestanding doors,” Fox said, stressing that is not in the immediate future. He added that significant product development has just begun on a men’s collection and luggage, both of which will see a proper launch in 2014.