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Surfers may be big on pockets to cart their belongings while riding waves, but most people need something a bit larger.
This story first appeared in the September 8, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
So Quiksilver Inc., the $2.43 billion, Huntington Beach, Calif.-based action sports brand is adding accessories to its young contemporary wardrobe with the debut of a handbag collection for spring.
The collection is the latest example of a bid to appeal to surfer girls as they become adults and their fashion tastes mature. The handbags join Quiksilver’s young contemporary women’s apparel line introduced for fall and aimed at 18- to 24 year-olds who’ve outgrown Roxy, the company’s juniors offering.
Carefully testing the accessories waters, Quiksilver decided to limit the initial handbag collection to four styles developed in collaboration with Southern California designer Lesa Wallace. Distribution targets are mostly trendy boutiques, and the bags range in price at retail from $75 for a clutch to $150 for a duffel.
“We went conservative with the amount of bodies we are offering because we wanted to put a lot of energy in making four nice ones rather than an oversaturated line,” said Summer Rapp, vice president of design for Quiksilver’s women’s label. “Just like our clothing collection, we really wanted to do something different and something that set us apart. We have made bags that can fit in at an American Rag store. They are not logo-driven.”
The collaboration strategy helps lend Quiksilver’s fashion legitimacy, while providing Wallace, whose namesake bags primarily sell between $200 and $500 at Lisa Kline, Fred Segal and Nordstorm, an outlet to reach a larger audience. Quiksilver’s prior experience in handbags was restricted to Roxy, for which bags are largely practical, highly cost-driven for the mass market and average under $50 retail.
“Boardshorts and T-shirts can only be worn so much and then you want stuff that you can wear during the day and to work,” said Wallace. “That is the overall vision for [Quiksilver] and something that I understand and get.”
Her design inspiration for the Quiksilver handbag collection drew upon the young contemporary clothing’s marriage of feminine and masculine components.
“I tried to [transfer] that into each style, pairing chunky, matte hardware that embodied the masculine with, on the feminine side, making it girly and stylish with an element of function for the girl on the go,” said Wallace.
Two of the four handbag bodies are canvas with leather trim, and the other two are made from polyurethane. The interior lining is antique brown with what Rapp described as a “dainty vintage flower print.” That the bags are by Quiksilver is barely detectable, but is subtly apparent in the inside labels and with Quiksilver emblems on the zipper pulls.
A full women’s accessories assortment is in Quiksilver’s future, although the launch date hasn’t been confirmed. “When we do, it is going to be items that complement the [apparel] collection,” she said. “It would be more selective like handbags and hats and belts. I don’t think it will be tchotchke items.”
Quiksilver declined to reveal sales projections for the handbag collection. However, former Quiksilver president Bernard Mariette told WWD last year that the complete young contemporary line “has the potential to be as big as Roxy.” If its recent growth trajectory continues, Quiksilver has projected Roxy will soon exceed $1 billion in annual revenue and become the largest of the company’s 15 brands.