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Jimmy Choo Goes Beyond the shoe

LONDON — The Jimmy Choo brand is stepping out of its shoes with a new line of handbags and some fresh retail plans.<br><br>The company has unveiled a line of 12 handbags for fall, made from calfskin, crocodile and satin, with hardware fashioned...

LONDON — The Jimmy Choo brand is stepping out of its shoes with a new line of handbags and some fresh retail plans.

This story first appeared in the April 14, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The company has unveiled a line of 12 handbags for fall, made from calfskin, crocodile and satin, with hardware fashioned from sandblasted metal.

“Our goal has always been to be a true accessories brand, not just a shoe brand, which is why we are launching bags,” said Robert Bensoussan, chief executive of Jimmy Choo Ltd. “We consider the bags to be a separate business, not linked to the shoes.”

He said that, to a certain extent, Jimmy Choo would be following the business model of Tod’s, the Italian accessories company that launched handbags after its shoe collection was off the ground.

Designed by an Italian-based team and produced in-house in Italy, the bags range in retail price from $690 for the Tulita buckle mini, a square bag with handles, to $1,500 for the large Tulita hobo bag.

Most of the day bags are square or rectangular in shape with shoulder straps or handles and sandblasted metal hardware. There is also a soft, clutch-shaped evening model with a chunky gold chain.

They will be sold primarily at Jimmy Choo stores and in-store shops, which by the end of the year will have a combined 17 locations. They also will be on sale at stores including Harrods, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, and will go on sale in August in the U.S. and the U.K., and in September in Europe.

While Bensoussan declined to release any figures, he said he expected handbag sales to account for 20 to 25 percent of Jimmy Choo’s total volume in three years’ time. Jimmy Choo does not release sales figures, but industry sources estimate the brand’s annual sales is in excess of $25 million.

Meanwhile, Bensoussan said the company is planning to open a corner at Selfridges in September, and is on track to open a 1,500-square-foot store at 716 Madison Avenue in New York the same month.

Over the summer, Jimmy Choo also will open stores in Short Hills, N.J.; Manhasset, N.Y., and in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, the company recently held an open-door day Milan to court the local press and is scouting locations around the city for its first Italian flagship.