By  on March 24, 2010

Elie Tahari wants to expand in accessories, aiming for sales$100 million in the category by 2012.

The New York ready-to-wear firm, which launched shoes in 2006, handbags in 2007 and has periodically injected the line with elements such as costume jewelry and belts, is increasing its accessories distribution. For spring, that involved the sale of handbags at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.

“From a design standpoint, they’re right on target,” Bergdorf Goodman president and chief executive officer Jim Gold said of Elie Tahari. “From a fashion standpoint, there’s a great price-value relationship.…It’s a very important brand for us.”

Although accessories represents the smallest part of Tahari’s business, the designer said, “It has the biggest potential to grow.”

Footwear sales are up by 86 percent in the first half of this year, compared with the same period in 2009, and handbag orders have gained 230 percent, Tahari said.

The company did not provide specific dollar amounts on sales of accessories.

Tahari plans to launch eyewear through licensing in the near future, as well as fragrance. Licensing partners have not been chosen.

“[Designing accessories] is much different than apparel,” said Tahari, adding he is eager to integrate apparel elements, such as leather cut outs, pleating and fur trim, into accessories. “Women are looking for exciting and new [handbags] below $1,000.”

The average price point for Elie Tahari handbags is from $298 to $398. The most expensive is the Bridget tote in brown fox and leather at $1,598.

Tahari described the accessories for fall, including strappy metal chain and suede pochettes, ruched over the knee boots and black lace and suede platform heels for evening, as “fresh-looking.”

Some bestsellers from spring include a cork group of bags with gold chain handles and a smocked leather hobo.

Elie Tahari accessories are sold in the firm’s 16 stand-alone U.S. boutiques and 600 doors across the U.S., including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. On Thursday, Bergdorf’s will fete the spring handbag collection with senior vice president of the fashion office, Linda Fargo, and Elle magazine creative director Joe Zee as hosts.

Internationally, the label is sold in more than 260 locations and has 15 in-store shops across in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, including a recently opened boutique in Harrods in London. The firm plans to open 15 more stores this year in Europe, Mexico and Korea, and as many as a dozen additional U.S. locations annually for the next three years.

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