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With the world fiscal crisis top of mind, accessories designers and executives are looking ahead to the second half of 2008 and beyond.

This story first appeared in the July 7, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Marc Hruschka, president and chief executive officer of Chopard in the U.S.

WWD: What products or categories are you enthusiastic about?

Marc Hruschka: The expansion of our high jewelry assortment. From a watch standpoint, the new mini Happy Sports are highly anticipated. The Mille Miglia additions are fantastic and right in line with where the [watch] category is going.

WWD: How has the fiscal crisis affected your strategy?

M.H.: We’ve definitely seen and targeted more international clients. At the same time, we’ve done an excellent job of tapping our existing clientele and maximizing opportunities with them.

WWD: What price points are selling best?

M.H.: For jewelry and watches, the $10,000 to $25,000 [bracket] is very strong and the $100,000-plus price points for high jewelry and watches are still healthy.

WWD: Hot ticket items for holiday?

M.H.: Mille Miglia Speedblack Chronograph, Happy Sport in White Ceramic and Happy Sport in Black DLC.

Deborah Lloyd, co-president and creative director of Kate Spade

WWD: What products or categories are you enthusiastic about?

Deborah Lloyd: Our small collection of cocktail apparel exclusive to our own stores and the launch of our new jewelry collection for holiday. It’s colorful, fun and makes a statement.

WWD: How would you say the fiscal crisis has affected your retail strategy?

D.L.: We don’t believe it’s appropriate to shift our strategy in response to the current conditions. We believe we must continue to evolve our product assortment, complete a redesign of our retail stores and communicate this to the consumer as planned.

WWD: What price point is selling best?

D.L.: About $300 to $350.

WWD: Hot ticket items for holiday?

D.L.: Graphic mittens and hats, bold jewelry, whimsical satin clutches, watercolor floral prints, bold colorful two-toned pieces, soft metallics, pet products and our Par Avion collection that’s ideal for travel. As for handbags, the Sullivan Street Melita is our pick of the season.

WWD: What is the strongest geographic market for you right now?

D.L.: New York

WWD: In which market do you anticipate the most growth this year?

D.L.: California


Fabio d’Angelantonio, marketing director of Luxottica Group

WWD: What product or categories are you enthusiastic about?

Fabio d’Angelantonio: In general, we are enthusiastic about the feedback from consumers regarding special editions and limited editions. More and more, eyewear and sunglasses in particular are moving toward a true fashion and luxury accessory and are perceived as key elements when building the look and the style of people. Therefore, we are working in the direction of releasing very iconic styles expressing values of uniqueness and sophistication and with strong personality, such as the Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses with precious stones and crystals on the hinges, the Chanel pearled special edition, the Prada Butterfly style and the Versace sunglass with the flower decorating the hinges.

WWD: What is the strongest geographic market for you right now?

F.D.: Our business this year is continuing to see growth in many regions around the world, especially in the emerging markets, Australasia and Greater China. This is a reflection of the strength of our business model, which is truly global and…fully vertically integrated.

WWD: In which market do you anticipate the most growth this year?

F.D.: We are currently expecting more growth, again, mainly from emerging markets, Australasia, Greater China, but also new regions/markets, including Southeast Asia and the [Persian] Gulf states.

WWD: Hot ticket item for holiday?

F.D.: Depending on the consumer segment, multiple styles and sunglasses can be strong items for holidays. For instance, Ray-Ban is doing extremely well with the special colored project with the new range of colors for the top-selling style Wayfarer edited in more than the traditional color palette and being an ideal holiday gift for fall.


Harriet Sustarsic, senior vice president and general merchandising manager for Guess and Marciano buying

WWD: What products or categories are you enthusiastic about?

Harriet Sustarsic: Handbags and watches would be the two categories that we are most enthusiastic about for the second half of 2008. Within watches, we have trend-right styling in both men’s and ladies’ Guess watches coming down the pipeline. We will also have a new limited edition men’s automatic Guess watch coming this fall.

WWD: What price point is selling best?

H.S.: In the U.S., our best-selling price point in handbags is $85 to $100. In Guess Watches, it ranges between $85 and $100. In Gc Swiss Timepieces, it ranges between $350 and $450.

WWD: What is the strongest geographic market for you right now?

H.S.: In the U.S., South Florida is currently the strongest geographical region for accessories. More specifically, during the month of July we see a significant increase in Brazilian tourism in this region.

WWD: In which venue do you anticipate the most growth this year?

H.S.: Online sales continue to drive our overall accessories business and there is room for significant business growth.

WWD: Hot ticket items for holiday?

H.S.: We will have new offerings within our giftables program that will help our customers complete their look. There will be items in small leather goods, watches, ladies’ jewelry, belts and eyewear that customers can only purchase at Guess Retail and Guess Accessory store locations.

Kara Ross, designer and founder of Kara Ross

WWD: What products or categories are you enthusiastic about?

Kara Ross: I feel really good about our new boutique jewelry line…the style and price point from $100 to $500 hits the right mark. It’s strong, bold and fashion-forward but at a very affordable price point.

WWD: How has the fiscal crisis has affected your strategy?

K.R.: I have been trying to bring the price points down on the bags. Certainly, some of the bags are still full exotic — they are more expensive, but I have been working with exotic skin accents as opposed to full bags. I am thinking more globally to try and stay ahead of the fiscal crisis. [Ross is opening a London office this month.] We have upcoming appointments with some amazing stores in Paris, South Korea, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Russia. Having the office in London will allow the buyers to see the collection overseas.

WWD: Is there a product category that you aren’t pushing this year?

K.R.: I love my fine jewelry line and feel great about the aesthetics, quality and uniqueness of it. With the current economy, only a very select amount of stores world be able to sell the line as it isn’t typical. Currently, the collection is at Bergdorf Goodman and Browns in London…right now I’m not trying to broaden the base for the fine jewelry line.

WWD: Hot ticket items for holiday?

K.R.: Metallic stackable cuffs with exotic skins and gemstones from the boutique line.

— Sophia Chabbott, Caroline Tell, Alessandra Ilari and Marcy Medina


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