By  on August 20, 2007

Not everyone can afford Chanel accessories, but now Karl Lagerfeld is offering a less-expensive alternative.

Karl Lagerfeld SAS is partnering with Accessory Network Group to design, manufacture and distribute Karl Lagerfeld handbags, small leather goods and luggage. The collection will fall under ANG's prestige brands division and will join the likes of Calvin Klein, Ghurka and Isaac Isaac Mizrahi accessories.

"We are proud to add Karl Lagerfeld to our roster of brands," said Abe Chehebar, chairman and chief executive officer of ANG. "I think he's brilliant. He has a very strong team who has given us many ideas and directions. He is also very personally involved and excited about the project."

The company projected first-year sales of $3 million to $5 million, with the potential of $25 million in volume down the road.

Although designs haven't been finalized, Lagerfeld handbags will bow for the fall 2008 season and consist of a designer-level collection retailing from $1,000 and a contemporary line ranging from $350 to $850. Both groups also will include a range of small leather goods and luggage, while the designer-level offerings will feature a full travel collection comprising travel bags, accessories and luggage retailing from $485 to $850.

"There's going to be a huge emphasis on materials and hardware," said Michele Ateyeh, president of ANG's prestige brands division. "It's going to be sophisticated and will include a high-tech element."

Chehebar said the designer bags will feature exotic skins and that both collections will include specialty leathers with different treatments.

"It's going to be very different from what's in the marketplace," he said.

Lagerfeld heads the creative teams behind the Chanel and Fendi ready-to-wear collections, as well as Chanel couture. But the famous designer has brought his aesthetic to other consumer levels before in a limited edition collection for H&M and more recently in teaming up with Coty Inc. to create a signature line of fragrances.

Lagerfeld's latest venture into contemporary and designer handbags might be the biggest move on his part in building his own label into a true lifestyle brand, which is owned by Tommy Hilfiger Corp. The bags are expected to bow at high-end department stores and top specialty stores throughout the country and will reach consumers on a broader level than the upscale brands for which he is best known."This is a long-term partnership, more like a strategic alliance," said Chehebar. "We are in the process of discussing other product categories with his team and there is a great opportunity to build the Karl Lagerfeld brand in various categories."

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