Aldo Lopez might be considered the ultimate dreamer. Last year, Lopez decided to abandon his career as a high-profile lawyer and launch a luxury accessories line called Mos Milano for spring 2009, comprising jewelry, handbags and eyewear. Handmade in Italy by carefully selected artisans, the collection’s leitmotif is the infinity sign, discreetly embellishing the arms of the glasses and adorning diamond earrings.
The economy tanked in the months after the launch, and Lopez is fully aware that “it was a bad moment and 2009 is even worse.” But he continues to see an opportunity in the development of his concept. “Retailers want to experiment because they need to create interest and stimulate their customers. With us, they are freed from minimum purchases, versus constraining limits often imposed by big designer brands,” says Lopez, who remains confident in long-term results. “I know it’s going to be a very long process to establish our identity — and it may take up to 10 years — but I want this to become a small luxury maison, known for its true craftsmanship and classic-yet-contemporary accessories made by the best artisans in the sector.”
Mos Milano jewelry was snapped up by Pisa, one of Milan’s toniest jewelers, and also is carried at Quarter 206 in Berlin and Boutique 1 in Dubai, among other locations. Lopez points to the brand’s three categories as an “element of strength — more difficult to create but easier to communicate,” as, together, they convey a comprehensive message of style.
Indeed, product differentiation is the driving strategy for a number of accessories brands. In a dismal economy, this tactic is seen as a service to retailers and an opportunity to reach a wider customer base. For fall 2009, Furla launched its first men’s accessories collection, Valextra added a few men’s shirts and jackets to its accessories collection and Prada-owned footwear brand Church’s expanded its core business with a comprehensive collection of bags, small leather goods, umbrellas and scarves.
In November, Samsonite launched a new division, Samsonite Footwear, headquartered in Milan, to develop and globally distribute a shoe collection. “The goal is to further grow the value of the brand, which is known for its bags and travel accessories, through an extension in footwear with products marked by style and comfort, stemming from values such as durability and reliability,” said the company in a statement. Case in point: a blue-and-silver suede and nylon sneaker distinguished by Samsonite’s iconic logo stitched on the side. “The extension is synergic with our core business,” the statement reads.
Licensing agreements are also a means to enter new territories. Braccialini, known for its colorful patchwork bags and quirky totes shaped as London cabs or owls, has been leveraging a number of licenses to bring visibility to the brand. The latest venture is an innerwear line licensed to Como, Italy-based Frangi, which will bow for fall 2009. Frangi also has been producing Braccialini branded scarves for the past two years. As a first foray outside its core business, Braccialini launched its umbrellas, licensed to H2O, and Lorenzo Braccialini, in charge of marketing at the family-owned company, says this license continues to work “very, very well.”
Last year, Braccialini launched its first fragrance, The First, with Schiapparelli Pikenz and will introduce a higher-end scent at the end of the year. Licenses, says Braccialini, help avoid dealing with production costs, shipments and distribution, although the company invests in a design team that supports licensing.
“Licenses work only if you are completely hands-on,” says Braccialini. “And if you have a lifestyle to communicate.”
The firm also takes advantage of its parent company Mariella Burani Fashion Group’s synergies to provide additional merchandise. For example, MBFG’s Facco Corp. produces and distributes Braccialini’s jewelry, which was launched two years ago.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
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Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye