NEW YORK — Liebeskind Berlin was founded in 2004, a lousy year for the German economy. The company quickly learned how to rein in expenses as demand for more moderately priced handbags was building. Now Liebeskind, which operates 20 stores in Europe, is testing its formula — leather handbags, for the most part priced under $350 — Stateside with its first U.S. store, a 700-square-foot unit at 276 Lafayette Street in SoHo here.
Chief executive officer Johannes Rellecke declined to provide a sales estimate for the new store, but said Liebeskind units typically have annual sales of at least $2,000 a square foot.
“If this [store] works, we’d like to open two to three more stores in New York,” he said. “Then we can expand in the U.S. market.” Liebeskind wholesales its products to 260 doors worldwide, including Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. Rellecke wants to increase that number to least 300 to 400 doors. “We should expand our wholesale business with existing clients and get 20 to 30 more stores,” he said.
While a price tag of more than $1,000 is not unusual for a designer brand’s logo and brass hardware, Rellecke said, “Several brands in Europe take too much money for their product.”
Liebeskind has lowered its costs by streamlining the production cycle. “We’re very direct,” Rellecke said. “We don’t have so many different stages of suppliers through the supply chain. We produce the leather. It’s very fast.”
The company debates “how much margin to put on the production price,” Rellecke said. “We try to achieve a very favorable price point without compromising quality. If we have to lower the margins for a special material, we do that.”
Liebeskind, which means “love child” in German, was founded by Rellecke and his twin brother Julian, the creative director, and college friend Semih Simsek, who’s responsible for production and logistics. “My brother didn’t study design,” Rellecke said. “He is a shoemaker and his way to create and design is very handcrafted. That experience helped him develop a different view of materials and the design process.
“We saw a big gap for high quality full leather handbags, accessories and shoes, so we decided to make our own,” Rellecke said. “We see a lot of chances in this market. More and more women are tired of spending more than $400 on a leather handbag.”
Liebeskind handbags have both rugged and refined qualities. The idiosyncrasies of the Lotta hobo’s embossed cow leather, $349, are highlighted with color, while the buttery soft leather Mia satchel, $345, has a beltlike strip across the front and turn lock closure.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast