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Tommy Bahama: Accessories Are Necessities

Some elements, like jewelry and shoes, are produced in-house, while others, like eyewear and watches, are licensed — to Marchon and Geneva, respectively.

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For a company that emphasizes a 360-degree approach to lifestyle, accessories provide the finishing touches to Tommy Bahama fashion.

“It’s necessary and it’s a business that our guests want. When you say you’re a lifestyle brand, you need to fulfill all portions of a person’s life, and that’s what we think these categories do,” said chief executive officer Terry Pillow. “Accessories pulls it all together and helps us tell the story.”

Men’s and women’s accessories make up about 5 percent of the total business, or between $20 million and $25 million of the $450 million in annual sales.

 

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The company recently brought categories like jewelry and shoes back in-house, both of which represent opportunities for growth. A shoe line will bow for holiday and spring 2013.

When Stephen Cirona, senior vice president of women’s, joined the company two years ago, developing an accessories program was high on his priority list.

“Accessories is really the exclamation point — to be able to build all these different product classifications, to modernize the sensibility without walking away from the genetic code of who we are,” he said.

Cirona shuttles between the apparel design team in Pasadena, the accessories team in Seattle and the licensing team in New York to make sure the accessories offer is cohesive. Some elements, like jewelry and shoes, are produced in-house, while others, like eyewear and watches, are licensed (to Marchon and Geneva, respectively). All categories reference the colors, patterns and signature elements of the apparel line.

“We decided it was important to have accessories in-house to work with our licenses and build our own product so we weren’t begging and borrowing and hoping. It had to be relevant to swim and sportswear,” said Cirona.

The women’s side consists of jewelry, bags, belts, scarves, watches, sunglasses and shoes.

Costume jewelry is priced between $30 and $40 retail, but there are special limited-edition collaborations with designers such as Wendy Mink and Lois Hill that range from $100 to $400 for gold-plated pieces with semiprecious stones or substantial sterling silver pieces. “It’s an amazing range from the impulse purchase to collectibles,” said Cirona. “Costume jewelry is important for us to hit trends and drive volume. The others are more gift and memento purchases.”

Bags range from clutches to totes, but remain on the casual and neutral side in raffia, straw and canvas with leather accents. The collection works with the scarves and wraps, which are in a similar price range and feature vibrant colors and prints. Layering accessories remains a key look for the brand.

In women’s shoes, the wedge is a key style, in espadrilles as well as leather and canvas. Most styles retail for less than $100 but the company also continues to produce a collection of beaded sandals with Mystique that ranges from $150 to $200.

The decision to license watches and sunglasses, said Cirona, “is all about maximizing our options. The more unique we make things, the more relevant they become as brand differentiators. That doesn’t mean we won’t follow trends, but it needs to go through our brand filters.”

On the men’s side, Don Kerkes, president of men’s, agrees that “accessories complete our picture.” While sunglasses and hats are obvious elements, the company is also expanding its jewelry offerings for men as well as small leather goods. Shoe offerings are on par with the women’s, in styles ranging from flip-flops to boat shoes, loafers and oxfords. Added Kerkes, “We’re never going to be a dress shoe brand, nor do we want to be. It’s all about being relaxed.”

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