By  on November 26, 2007

Sigerson Morrison is stepping out of the shoe box.

Slightly more than a year after the firm sold a majority stake to Marc Fisher LLC, a Greenwich, Conn.-based footwear firm, it has its sights set on becoming a full-fledged footwear and accessories brand with a global network of boutiques, a first-ever global marketing campaign and additional product categories such as handbags, eyewear and small leather goods. The firm aims to double its business. In 2006, Sigerson Morrison had $30 million in sales.

Sigerson Morrison is yet another accessories brand aiming to flesh out a lifestyle concept. Lambertson Truex, the New York-based luxury accessories firm owned by Samsonite, opened two stores on either coast this year. Mulberry, the British accessories company, started rolling out U.S. boutiques, including two in Manhattan, one in Manhasset, N.Y., and another in Atlantic City, N.J. Last month, Tumi, known for its utilitarian luggage, opened a store geared toward fashionable female shoppers at 1100 Madison Avenue in Manhattan to show off its David Chu-designed handbag collection.

In preparing for growth, Sigerson Morrison last year appointed Lance DeShazo as president. DeShazo worked at Coach as senior vice president of footwear, and before that at Nine West, where he was group president.

"We're firing on all cylinders," said Miranda Morrison, creative director, who founded the luxury footwear firm with Kari Sigerson, who is also a creative director.

The designers, who met at a footwear design program at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, are known for their pointed flats and city-chic boots. But they want to be known for more, such as handbags, a category in which Sigerson Morrison has dabbled but not seriously pursued.

"Capital investment is important to take a brand like ours to the next level," DeShazo said. "We're improving sourcing, systems and logistic synergies."

First up are a slew of store openings in the U.S. An 800-square-foot boutique at 987 Madison Avenue in New York opened Friday. The firm also has a Sigerson Morrison shop on Prince Street and a store called Belle, its four-year-old lower-priced sister line. A 1,600-square-foot Sigerson Morrison boutique in Malibu, Calif., is to open in February and a 600-square-foot Belle store at 9604 Brighton Way in Beverly Hills is slated for January. The brand has existing units in Los Angeles and Tokyo.In addition to these stores, Sigerson Morrison is looking at opening boutiques in San Francisco, Florida, Chicago, Texas and locations on the West Coast. The brand is also sold at Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale's and on Net-a-porter. In addition, opening stores in Asia is under consideration, and the firm has wholesale distributions in France, Italy, England and Japan.

The product is all made in Italy and Sigerson Morrison recently opened an office in Milan. There are also press offices in Paris and London.

The stores are modern in design, inspired by Richard Neutra's architecture, with furniture made of cowhide and stacks of signature silver shoe boxes. The stores will feature all product categories, including handbags and small leather goods.

The designers have also worked out a labeling problem that some of their consumers faced: deducing the difference between Sigerson Morrison and Belle by Sigerson Morrison. Belle started out as a lower-priced, more casual footwear line, but as the euro gained in value over the dollar, Belle's prices rose. So the firm called on Baron & Baron Inc. founder Fabien Baron to subtly redesign its logo and packaging for Sigerson Morrison. Baron, whose other clients include Calvin Klein and Balenciaga, is also photographing the brand's first global marketing campaign, which Karl Templer will style.

The Belle logo has been redesigned by Work in Progress, an advertising and design studio. The brands look and feel distinctly different now. Belle is more lighthearted and colorful, with retail prices of about $200 to $300. Sigerson Morrison is a bit more modern and edgy, with footwear prices from $295 to $750. Bags from Sigerson Morrison sell from $650 to $1,400.

"Handbags are an enormous opportunity for us," DeShazo said. "It's miniscule....We'll put a lot of energy and resources into handbags."

For spring, the brand had introduced more bags, including sleek clutches and buttery leather hobos.

Sigerson Morrison is aware of the risk of overexpanding a brand with too many stores and the impact on its business with department and specialty stores.

"I don't want to open on every corner," Sigerson said. "Our vision is to grow organically. We're more of a design company. We don't want to be a brand."

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