LONDON — Little Marlborough Street, a narrow, anonymous passageway off Carnaby Street, has served over the years as a smokers’ alley, a rat run for busy locals hotfooting their way through London’s Soho and a delivery bay for the department store Liberty, which backs onto the street.
All that changed earlier this summer when Liberty broke through its back walls, installed big glass windows facing the street and opened an accessories hall. The 2,000-square-foot space showcases a host of brands new to the store, including Carven, Coach, Kenzo, Lanvin, Loewe, Valentino and Sophie Hulme, in addition to old favorites such as Stella McCartney and Givenchy. The space also stocks scarves, sunglasses and small accessories by brands including Paul Smith, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Saunders.
The opening of the accessories hall is just one step in the ongoing transformation of the store, which is located near Oxford Circus, including the doubling of the fine and costume jewelry area to 4,000 square feet. “We wanted this room to be one giant explosion of original thought,” said Ed Burstell, managing director of Liberty, and the driving force behind the expanded accessories spaces. “We can’t compete with the bigger stores and the brands they carry. What we want to do with the jewelry in particular is to celebrate design and craftsmanship and launch new names.”
Besides some of the bigger jewelry brands like Pomellato, the expanded jewelry room also carries New York-based Daimyo, which specializes in silver unisex pieces; London-based Pippa Small; Carolina Bucci, who weaves gold together with yarn to make jewelry that feels more like fabric, and Arman, an Armenian label with a Byzantine feel.
Unlike some of its larger competitors such as Harrods and Selfridges, Liberty owns 90 percent of the jewelry on offer, with the remaining 10 percent made up of concessions. The average price for the jewelry is 500 pounds to 1,500 pounds, or $785 to $2,355 at current exchange. The store plans to add watches by the end of the year. The accessories category, including jewelry, currently generates 15 percent of Liberty’s sales, and Burstell said he’d like to increase that figure to 25 percent.
He declined to reveal the company’s sales. However, according to industry sources, 2012 sales at the flagship are projected to be 75 million pounds, or $118 million, at current exchange.
By next spring, Liberty plans to add an additional 1,500 square feet of retail space by breaking through more back-office space that faces Little Marlborough Street. Burstell remained mum on what merchandise would go there.
Whatever category is ultimately selected, it likely will not be the only new merchandise on the street. Shaftesbury plc, the publicly listed company that owns large swaths of central London real estate, plans to develop its holdings on the other side of Little Marlborough Street next year. The stores have yet to be confirmed, but there’s no doubt that the street’s dark age has finally come to an end.
Supermodel @helenachristensen teamed up with longtime friend and designer @camillastaerk on a joint @paredeyewear collaboration. The lineup features three styles and 11 offerings, all of which embody a vintage feel. Get all the details on how they celebrated the collab on WWD.com. #wwdaccessories #wwdeye (📷: @slovekinpics)
“It’s a hard industry to keep motivated, as well, so finding different subjects and people is what makes it worth it – when you’re like, oh, I’ve met great people, I feel like I’ve done something good, and I feel proud of having done this,” said French actress Stacy Martin on being grateful for the variety of roles she’s take on. Read @ktauer’s full interview with Martin on her her latest film “Godard Mon Amour.” #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
After showing in front of the Eiffel Tower for his last two women’s ready-to-wear collection, it looks like @anthonyvaccarello may be heading to the Big Apple. Sources say the designer will stage his next @ysl show in NYC on June 6. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion