TIMBERLAND LAUNCHES ACCESSORIES COLLECTION

Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK--The Timberland Co. is getting serious about accessories.
The firm that's known for its all-weather footwear and apparel has taken its "first step" in that direction with its collection of handbags, small leather goods and small luggage pieces introduced for fall retailing, said Claire Finger, brand manager for accessories.
Belts, gloves and socks are slated to be added at the January 1995 accessories market for fall, she pointed out.
Finger noted that accessories in the past at Timberland had been an item or add-on business and not handled consistently.
While she declined to cite dollar volume figures, she said the company expects to increase its accessories business 200 percent over the next 12 months, and for the long term, the category should grow at a faster rate than the overall company.
Last year, Timberland's net sales totaled $419 million, up 44 percent from $291 million in 1992. In 1992, sales posted a gain of 29 percent, following increases of 15 percent in 1991 and 16 percent in 1990.
The Timberland fall collection of 105 handbags, small leather goods and luggage pieces, launched in certain department and specialty stores last month, features a signature nubuck line called Cedar, and a matte finish, full-grain leather group named Redwood.
Cedar is available in five colors, Redwood comes in two, and both have antique brass hardware and feature the same waterproof quality as Timberland footwear. Silhouettes include backpacks, totes, satchels, buckets, drawstrings and camera bags, with wholesale prices ranging from $35 to $150.
For spring 1995, Timberland will add two more colors to the Cedar group and one more to the Redwood group.
Mary Winchell, national sales manager for accessories at Timberland, reported initial results in the stores had drawstring styles, backpacks and small minibelt bags leading the way. Organizers, agendas and wallets also fared well, Winchell said.
Finger acknowledged that Timberland is "trying hard to break out of the mold that we're a Northeastern boot company."
However, it wants to capitalize on the recognition the brand name has. To do this, fixturing and point-of-purchase materials have been developed to promote such features as the line's durability and waterproof qualities.
For example, one display piece is a Lucite cube containing a piece of Timberland leather immersed in water.
The firm also supplies a spritzer for displays and encourages shoppers to spray the products with water to demonstrate waterproofness.
"Anything that is interactive and shows the consumer who we are brings the message home," said Finger.
Print ads highlighting accessories are slated to appear in October and December issues of Vogue, Mirabella and selected regional magazines in key markets, including Texas Monthly, the LA Times Magazine and New York Magazine.
The accessories collection is shown at the firm's New York showroom at 745 Fifth Ave.

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