By  on April 7, 2008

MICHELE GOES FOR EYEWEAR: Michele has found a place in the sun. The eight-year-old fashion watch firm has launched a high-end eyewear collection. Hitting stores this month, the sunglasses are produced in partnership with Fossil and retail from $250 to $1,250. They feature the same striking details as the watches, including hand-set diamonds and mother-of-pearl embellishments. Michele eyewear will be available at, Nordstrom and luxury specialty stores. "Since sunglasses are the ultimate fashion accessory, we believe that it is a natural brand extension for Michele," said Michele Barouh, creative director.

WHITE + WARREN'S WEEKENDER: White + Warren was onto something when it created the ultimate cashmere travel wrap — perfect for long flights where airplane blankets just won't do. After launching other luxurious travel accessories, such as cashmere slippers and eye masks, the jet-set look is being completed by the brand's new travel bags. Wholesaling from $65 for a clutch to $300 for a weekend traveler, the hemp and leather bags have every pocket in place and zipper within reach to ensure a quick whisk through security. "The need for travel accessories has become apparent as the luxury consumer is constantly on the move, whether going to exotic locations, business trips or vacation homes," said Barbara Warren, co-founder and creative director of White + Warren.

LUNCHEON HONORS JEWISH PHILANTHROPISTS: The Jewish Women's Foundation of New York is hosting a benefit luncheon on Thursday at the Pierre Hotel to honor women who have made significant contributions in education, advocacy and fund-raising in the Jewish community. Honorees include Jane Weitzman, executive vice president of Stuart Weitzman, and Darcy Miller Nussbaum, weddings editorial director of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist, author and TV commentator, will preside as master of ceremonies. More information can be found at

EYES ON AVIA: American Sporting Goods has entered into a license agreement with Icon Eyewear to produce and distribute sunglasses for the And1 and Avia brands.

"ASG selected Icon Eyewear as the licensee for Avia and And1 sunglasses in large part for their renowned expertise in fashion and sport design, as well as their diligent attention to utilizing quality materials," said Tom O'Riordan, chief executive officer of Southern California-based ASG.Metal shields and plastic aviators will be highlights of Avia's sporty spring collection for women and men. For male competitive athletes, And1's offerings will feature high-tech biking and running glasses with aluminum and plastic frames in polycarbonate and polycarbonate polarized lenses. General fitness buffs will be able to purchase And1 active-inspired frames in metal and plastic. Wholesale prices for And1 and Avia frames range from about $15 to $30. Icon's goal is to distribute both brands' sunglasses to 1,000 sporting goods and department store doors in a year.

CONTEMPORARY GROWS: Alexis Hudson is part of the new contemporary handbag selection at Saks Fifth Avenue this spring. Eight styles are entering seven doors, said Emily Ironi, who coowns the three-year-old Southern California brand with designer Rachelle Copeland. Among the key styles are a framed clutch retailing for $525, a convertible bag that goes from short to long for $895 and a quilted leather bag with a chain handle for $685.

Patti Cho, a contemporary handbag buyer at Saks, said the luxury chain has been scouting brands that offer stores exclusivity and customers some sophistication.

"We are working on upping the ante with our assortment," Cho said.

For cruise and spring, Cho pointed out that Saks also has brought in Treesje, Rebecca Minkoff, Botkier and Foley & Corinna. On Saturday, the new contemporary selection of handbags was feted at the Saks flagship in New York, with appearances by several of the contemporary handbag designers.

EXTENDING THE BRAND: Elaine Turner, a Houston-based handbag designer, is getting her shoes on. Launching this month, Turner's footwear collection retails from $125 to $225 and includes flip-flops, ballet flats and wedge styles — all of which will echo the current spring handbag collection. "Shoes are a natural extension of handbags," Turner said. "So to truly communicate our brand identity, we felt that shoes were the next natural step for our growth strategy."

Elaine Turner footwear will be available at all Tootsies locations in Houston, Dallas and Atlanta, in addition to Turner's soon-to-open store in Houston's Rice Village.

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