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Perrin to Launch Handbags

Perrin, the French glove-maker and tannery house, is entering the handbag category for spring.

Perrin, the French glove-maker and tannery house, is entering the handbag category for spring.

The brand, to be known as Perrin Paris 1893 in celebration of its founding year, intends to take a guild-like approach to the handbag styles. The firm is working with a team of four designers who have each created their own collection under the Perrin umbrella.

“The goal was to design a high-end product with great material that would retail for under $1,000,” said owner Michel Perrin, a fourth-generation member of the family, who lives in Los Angeles. “We want to approach the market with the savvy of Coach and the quality of Hermès.”

Most of the designs in the 20-piece red, white and black collection will retail from $500 to $1,000, with one or two of the largest bags selling for $1,200.

The four designers are Jean-Luc Testu, a former architect who used to work for Thierry Mugler; Dorothy Barrick, a former model; Stéphane Verdino, a handbag designer, and Eric-Charles Donatien, former director for the House of Lemarie, a Parisian firm that specializes in featherwork and whose clients include Chanel. Perrin discovered all four designers at the Première Vision trade show, where they were working for other companies.

Perrin estimates that during the first season he will sell about 1,000 bags to high-end department and specialty stores in the U.S., Europe and Japan, with first deliveries occurring in late January and early February.

For the fall-winter collection, he plans to include a matching pair of gloves with each bag.

“I am hoping to relaunch the elegant glove habit of the Twenties,” he said.

Perrin also believes prices of luxury handbags will come down.

“We want to make sure we are there when they do,” he said.

Perrin sees the handbag collections as a launching pad for creative talent that doesn’t have the backing of a company.

“To make a name in fashion these days, you have to be backed by a large house, and you have to be a personality who can deal with all aspects of the business,” he said. “Our guild concept allows the designers to focus on design, and we worry about the production and the business.”

This story first appeared in the October 2, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.