NEW YORK — Ruehl's first accessories-only store opens today in lower Manhattan featuring rugged-looking belts and handbags that would be at home on the range — or, in this case, the city streets.
The store is something of an experiment for Abercrombie & Fitch's newest division. The size — a mere 600 square feet — partly dictated the focus. Standard Ruehl units are about 8,500 square feet. This is also the only Ruehl store located outside a mall.
There's little to mark the shop at 370 Bleecker Street other than the Ruehl logo stenciled on the door in gold. The space could be mistaken for a bookshop if not for the handbags lining the dark walnut floor-to-ceiling bookcases. The top row of each holds an eclectic mix of books, including first editions, assembled by the visual team.
Ruehl has had to create an identity for its accessories from scratch. The brand is aimed at women and men ages 22 to 30. A&F's other divisions target younger audiences: A&F is for 18- to 22-year-olds, Hollister is for 14- to 18-year-olds and abercrombie is for seven- to 14-year-olds.
"We wanted to establish a very significant American brand," said Kathy Formby, vice president of design for Ruehl accessories. "We wanted to make sure the bags were for everyday and casual."
The company declined to discuss sales projections for the store. Last year, Abercrombie & Fitch reported an 8.8 percent gain in sales to $1.77 billion and a 6.1 percent increase in earnings to $209.2 million.
It's unclear how many Ruehl stores will eventually open. There are seven units, and eight more scheduled to open at major shopping centers in Honolulu, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Garden City, N.Y.
Core skins such as buffalo and shearling were chosen for their sturdiness. Industrial hardware in the form of a bridal ring is the Ruehl signature, appearing as a handbag closure and belt links.
Prices range from $328 for a small buffalo handbag to $1,395 a hair calf bag embellished with hand-sewn soutouche. French rabbit fur, prevalent in the collection, is dyed to look like chinchilla. A large rabbit fur bag at $1,198 features the same hardware. There's also a shearling group.In addition, Formby developed an Icat pattern for fall, which is used for handbags. She'll create a new pattern each season.
"We're going to do a denim group because we're born of denim," said Lisa Capozzi, merchandise manager for Ruehl accessories. "You'll see jewelry start to develop. We have a little bit of jewelry for men."
The Ruehl accessories team is aware that luring young women from sought-after brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Fendi won't be easy. "If you have a really strong signature, it's about creating the desire," Capozzi said.
At the high end, Ruehl's prices are similar to those of European luxury brands. Mark Breitbard, senior vice president and general manager, said the company hopes customers won't be put off.
"We've reached out to our consumer with a $328 price," he said, referring to the buffalo handbag. "We have the range. We don't want to alienate her."
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)