NEW YORK -- The current economic difficulties aren't stopping eager newcomers from stepping into the handbag scene.
Here, a sampling of some fresh faces:
Many leather goods designers dream of setting up production in Italy. Not so for New York-based Leonello Borghi, who manufactures his new line of handbags in the city.
A Florentine, Borghi came to New York in 1994 and has since been a design consultant for several Italian companies, while also starting his men's clothing and accessories business in 2000.
The men's line is currently being sold at such stores as Barneys New York, Takashimaya New York, Maxfield in Los Angeles and Harvey Nichols in London.
"There was a crossover in customers," he said. "Many women wanted to buy the handbags designed for men, so I felt there was a need. That's why I started women's handbags."
Consisting of 17 styles, Borghi's current collection for women is made of lambskin, goatskin, calf leather and canvas, with water-repellent nylon. Styles include a mini shoulder bag, a large tote shopper in canvas with leather trim combinations, a large soft hobo and a flat napa leather handbag. Each bag also features functional elements, such as exterior pockets, as well as deep vertical pockets on the inside.
"I love totes and satchels because they have a unisex look," he said. "I like to design for women that feel so confident that they don't need something heavily embellished."
The line, which launched with a party at Whitespace Studios in Manhattan during the recent runway shows, is also inspired by the movement of the city, said Borghi.
"A city like New York is about energy, movement and speed," he said. "I wanted to make sure [the handbags] are friendly against the body. I always make sure the bags are lightweight and functional."
Wholesale prices range from $110 to $160, and Borghi said he is projecting first-year sales of about $400,000, with distribution aimed at existing Borghi men's wear accounts and select department and specialty stores.
Suen CooperThe luxury goods industry may have taken a hit of late, but Karen Suen Cooper is convinced that pure luxury will survive any storm. After some hiccups and order cancellations post-Sept. 11, the handbag designer is forging ahead with her line of exotic skin bags, some of which have wholesale prices of up to $2,960.
"I want to redefine luxury for modern women," Suen Cooper said. "When you get into precious goods, it gets so serious. My product is luxurious and at the same time functional."
Suen Cooper's launch collection includes handbags, clutches and totes, in luxe exotic skins, such as crocodile, lizard and French calf leather, as well as canvas. All pieces are lined in red full-grain leather, and many feature side gussets to maximize interior space and compartments for credit cards.
After Suen Cooper graduated from the Parsons School of Design in 1990, she worked as a ready-to-wear designer for A Line Anne Klein. Prior to starting her own line, she was vice president and creative director at Barry Kieselstein-Cord, where she learned to appreciate luxury leathers and the equal importance of a handbag's interior.
"My message to women is that empowerment can come from a place of sensuality, where we feel with our eyes, hands, heart and mind," she said. "In experiencing my product and its environment, the tangible details will excite the eye, invite the hands to touch and feel and appeal to our heart."
Fantasy-lingo aside, Suen Cooper claimed she always thinks of a woman and her needs in the professional, urban world.
"Over-the-top is great, but I like speaking to women and understanding what her needs are," she said. "My interiors feel like luxury, they are designed with cell-phone case and pockets. You can schlepp and at the same time be chic."
Wholesale price points range from $90 to $2,960, and Suen Cooper projects first-year sales of $300,000, with distribution to upscale department and specialty stores.
After more than 14 year of designing accessories for someone else, Gabriella Zanzani decided to strike out on her own.
However, the Munich native picked an unfortunate date to start her own business: She officially launched her company on Sept. 10."It turned out to be a disastrous time to launch, but it also made us feel grateful for what we have," she said.
Nonetheless, Zanzani has pressed on to reach her dream.
"I worked for almost everyone I wanted to work for, and I decided it was time to go out on my own," said Zanzani, who had stints at Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Celine.
Her first collection was recently shipped to Saks Fifth Avenue in time for spring selling, but the firm's real push is this fall. The extensive collection comprises handbags and small leather goods in Italian leather and suede. Many of the colors are in deep shades of red and brown in shapes that include totes, saddle bags, clutches and satchels.
The details are important to Zanzani, whose bags include touches such as solid-brass hardware plated with palladium and linings in genuine suede and faux pigskin. The bulk of the line carries wholesale prices of $200 to $380, with a few price points that go up to $600.
The designer also has other plans. She intends to relaunch her ready-to-wear line, which was in production until recently, but has since been put on hold while Zanzani's focuses on her accessories line.
In addition to her design work, Zanzani is also dedicated to social issues. She recently organized an event held in Manhattan called "The Look of Love," which featured an auction of original works by international photographers. Proceeds from the event went to the non-profit organization Doctors Without Borders.
"I think the work of this organization is extraordinary, and they need the money now to help out after the bombings in Afghanistan," she said.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews