By and  on January 2, 2002

NEW YORK -- The city's lagging economy isn't stopping accessories makers from stampeding into town. From the trendy streets of SoHo to the upper echelons of Madison Avenue, Manhattan is bursting with new shops from accessories vendors and jewelers. Many of the firms, such as Movado and Montblanc, are well known for one category, but are showcasing their other product offerings in new retail environments.

Here, a roundup of some of the newest players on the scene:

MOVADO'S MOVE

Movado has joined the fashion flock in SoHo.

While best known for its watches, Movado recently opened a 2,000-square-foot store on the corner of Wooster and Spring Streets showcasing its full range of products, including jewelry, crystal and tabletop, eyewear and home accessories.

The unit is part of Movado's efforts of late to diversify into the retail arena and build its name as a lifestyle brand. The publicly held firm opened its first store in 1998 and has slowly opened new locations around the New York metropolitan area and in Florida. The SoHo unit is its 10th location and its second unit in Manhattan, joining its Rockefeller Center shop.

"Consumers know us as a watch company and we wanted to convey the idea that we have other products and that we are a lifestyle brand," said Ray Stuart, president of boutiques.

Jewelry is the first product consumers encounter when entering the store. With prices ranging from $45 to $4,000, the jewelry collection includes a wide array of offerings, from sterling silver to 18-karat gold. Diamonds were introduced for the first time this holiday season.

In matching the hip aesthetic of many of its neighbors, Movado's SoHo store is painted in white and has a clean feel, without a lot of clutter. A few touches of the existing architecture were left in place, such as a brick wall in the back of the store, a brick ceiling, and a large open area downstairs designed for in-store events.

NIKKI'S NEW HAUNT

For accessories company Nikki B., opening a store in TriBeCa, just a few blocks away from Ground Zero, was an especially heartening project after the Sept. 11 attacks."After everything that's happened down here, people are encouraged by a new business opening up," said Nikki Butler, principal designer and owner of the company.

Butler noted that since opening in November, the response has been "amazing" from locals, who were surprised to see a new store in the neighborhood.

This is the first store for the three-year-old accessories firm, which is known for its ethnic-oriented jewelry, belts, shoes, handbags and T-shirts. Styles include a thin woven silver stretch bracelet at $165, a leather and silver bead magnet cuff at $95, a heavily studded magnet leather belt at $210 and beaded sandals at $130.

A native of Cape Town, South Africa, Butler said a modeling career took her out of her homeland to the most remote locations around the world.

"I discovered handmade silver beads in Chile and set up my production in Costa Rica, where we try to use as many of the natural resources, with wood playing a strong factor in my new collection for winter 2002," Butler said.

All beadwork is translated into a modern version of the African beadwork, using contrasting colors to create a sleek look. The line, which has a retail price range of $60 to $400, is already sold at such stores as Barneys New York, London's Harvey Nichols and Colette in Paris.

The 600-square-foot unit has flesh-toned walls, a 20-foot matte white Formica display case and natural walnut shelves.

Butler is also planning to offer other resources, including handbags from New York company Bloom, leather-framed sunglasses from the Histoire de Voir, handbags from Ursule Beaugeste from France, striped wool scarves from London's The West Village and hats from Lola.

CUTTING EDGE

With its first store just landed in SoHo, Swiss Army Brands is aiming to cement its status as an emerging lifestyle brand.

The Shelton, Conn.-based company, which is recognized as the world's premier pocketknife manufacturer, opened the flagship in a gleamingly modern space complete with lounge area.

The 3,500-square-foot unit displays the brand's array of watches, sunglasses, writing instruments, Victorinox apparel, travel gear and its signature pocketknives."With the introduction of apparel this fall, the timing was right to bring all of the product lines together under one roof," said Marcella George, director of Swiss Army's retail division.

For the store, the company collaborated with interior design firm Cite Design, whose clients include Tommy Hilfiger and Barneys New York. The space, which in past incarnations housed an art gallery and a bread factory, features stainless steel, dark-stained teak and leather-covered shelves. And, true to the brand's origins, one of the walls is painted in Swiss red.

MORE MONTBLANC

Montblanc is another newcomer to SoHo. The firm, best known for its pens, but which also has a number of other accessories, opened a tiny shop on Greene Street next door to the giant Louis Vuitton store. With its signature black and white color palette, the store features a full range of products, including watches, leather goods, eyewear and, of course, plenty of writing instruments. Prices run the gamut from $29 for boxed stationery up to $120,000 for the Royal pen, which is covered in diamonds.

Montblanc is making more efforts to grab women consumers with more products such as jewelry, watches and leather goods.

"We are really in expansion mode," said Karsten Martens, president and chief executive officer of Montblanc North America. "We feel we have huge potential in this country."

A division of luxury goods conglomerate Compagnie Financiere Richemont AG, Montblanc is now sold in about 1,000 doors in the U.S., after scaling back on some locations to limit its distribution and concentrate on better department and specialty stores, according to Martens. The company closed its unit at 834 Madison Avenue last month, but continues to operate its 535 Madison Avenue store.

It opened 20 new stores this year in the U.S., bringing its store count of freestanding stores to 49. The company also has two licensing deals for eyewear and fragrance, with the rest of its products made in-house.

ALVIERO'S NEW HOME

Italian leather goods firm Alviero Martini is stepping up its presence in the States with the opening of its first American store on Madison Avenue.Martini may be best known for its signature map prints, but that's not all there is to the line. The 2,300-square-foot boutique showcases the company's full product array, including bedding, shoes, luggage and watches, much of which is produced under license, as well as handbags and sportswear.

Some of the store's offerings also feature Americana themes, with a special nod to Manhattan. Sweaters with the face of the State of Liberty retail for $230 to $250, and other items featuring the Americana themes include a red, white and blue denim jacket and a watch with a rendition of the Empire State Building that sells for $215.

The store, located between East 57th and 58th Streets, is narrow but deep, and features blond maple wood and off-white walls with rectangular chandeliers dangling from the ceiling. A screen above the selling counter will show continuous presentations of Martini's runway show.

The company now has about 1,000 points of sale worldwide, including 100 in the U.S., which generated about 30 percent of his $100 million retail volume last year, he said. It also has nine other locations in addition to its New York store.

"I am very happy to be in New York," said designer Alviero Martini. "We felt it was really important to be here, and we hope to open more stores in this country."

CRYSTAL DESTINATION

Swarovski, the Austrian crystals-on-everything firm, has quietly opened its first New York store at 625 Madison Avenue between East 58th and 59th Streets.

The 1,400-square-foot unit, which was occupied by maternity retailer A Pea in the Pod, sells crystal-adorned giftware, jewelry, sunglasses and binoculars from the Swarovski and more upscale Daniel Swarovski lines.

"The stores allow us to tell a story in a complete way," said Daniel Cohen, president of Swarovski North America Ltd.

The Austrian firm is currently repositioning its collections by bridging the gift and home decoration categories, which have a broad distribution, with its fashion products, which are exclusive to department stores.

The New York unit brings these under one roof. It features red walls and over 20 anthracite and lapis blue display cases with curved glass."We were trying to focus on fluidity rather than angular design to complement our product, since crystal tends to be cool and clear and sharp, and there is a certain precision to it," said Cohen.

Each product is lit with fiber-optic lights, which Cohen said intensifies each crystal's color quality. Customers will also find two plasma screens as a component of the window display, which will show products and footage of Swarovski events.

"By having things change minute by minute, we are trying to breathe some life into the storefront," he said.

Cohen declined to give sales projections for the New York unit. He said that over the next two years, the company plans to open at least 10 additional stores, though locations have yet to be determined.

LALAOUNIS LANDS

Retail jeweler Ilias Lalaounis isn't new to New York, but the firm has a new home on Madison Avenue and 64th Street. The Greek company, best known for its intricate hand-crafted gold jewelry, vacated its former space at 733 Madison Avenue to make way for a new Chanel boutique.

The new 700-square-foot Lalaounis store is half the size of the former location, but the company did not cut any product offerings and instead found creative ways to use its space. For example, products are stored in attractive wood closets above and below the glass display cases and in small tables on the floor, which have sliding trays. Bright splashes of red can be found on chair upholstery and on window displays.

"We chose materials that have warmth and reflect our design sensibility," said Demetra Lalaounis, vice president and director of stores.

The tiny shop has a wide selection of offerings, ranging from Byzantine-inspired, 18-karat gold, hand-woven necklaces to modern silver chunky bracelets, which are elegantly displayed in glass cases built into the walls. It has products in rings and necklaces, earrings, bracelets and pendants, and many pieces feature precious and semiprecious stones, such as diamonds, pearls and rubies. Many of the items are finished with 22-karat gold, giving them an extra bright look.

Price points range from about $500 to $15,000 for most pieces.The family-owned firm now has 18 stores around the world, but the Madison Avenue store is its sole location in the U.S.

To Read the Full Article
SUBSCRIBE NOW

Tap into our Global Network

Of Industry Leaders and Designers

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus