NEW YORK — Accessories are in the limelight for spring at Liz Claiborne Inc. as the company steps up the assortment for its Sigrid Olsen and Monet divisions. For the first time since her company was acquired by Claiborne in 1999, apparel designer Sigrid Olsen is diversifying with a line of handbags for spring.

"I have a personal affinity for handbags, and wanted a quality bag," said the Wakefield, Mass.-based designer. "It’s the closest thing to clothing, since we work with leather, fabrics and prints."

There are 11 styles in the collection. Signature looks include a distressed leather hobo, a pebbled leather tote with braided handles and an oversize canvas traveler with leather corners.

"We needed to create the accessories in such a way that they convey the Sigrid Olsen message," the designer said. "I am a living designer, my background is that of an artist…with much color, texture, pattern and print."

Each of the bags emphasizes small details, such as piping with leather braiding and removable pouches. Patterns, like an embroidered leaf motif or crochet, round out the assortment.

"We think of accessories as the best way to complete the line, and it’s either handbags or jewelry," said Ed Bucciarelli, president of the Liz Claiborne Accessory Group. "We spoke [about launching accessories] to the consumer on the floor. She is a loyalist, she collects Sigrid Olsen, so many were immediately inquiring about where to get the accessories."

Bucciarelli declined to give sales projections for the line, but said LCI anticipates to sell to each existing Sigrid Olsen account. The apparel is currently available in about 2,000 department and specialty stores, including Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Marshall Field’s, Dillard’s and Parisian. "We plan to start with 200 to 300 department stores," he said.

Wholesale prices range from $22 to $65. Claiborne is also developing jewelry, hats and scarves for Olsen, but Bucciarelli declined to give any further details.

"[Accessories] will help increase the visibility because it will be on the main floor in department stores, and in specialty stores," said Olsen. "We are on the verge of opening our own Sigrid Olsen stores, so this will help round out the assortment."Meanwhile, costume jewelry brand Monet is moving into bridal accessories with a new line for spring. Made with pearls and diamond-like crystal stones, the line features estate-inspired multitiered chokers, drop earrings and tiaras, as well as gifts like photo frames, ring pillows, cufflinks and bride and groom luggage tags.

"Pearls have already been such a successful part of our business and growing," noted Laura Bjurstrom, vice president of jewelry design at LCI, who noted that few jewelry companies today offer updated bridal looks. "Particularly in department stores, you don’t have the bridal presentation." The Monet bridal collection will sell in department stores, with wholesale prices from $5.60 to $26.

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