WWD.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/the-leather-crowd-1156449/
government-trade
government-trade

The Leather Crowd

South Florida is home to a number of trendy leather goods producers. Here, a look at three companies that have set up shop.<BR><BR><STRONG>J.P. OURSE & CIE</STRONG><BR><BR>The name may be French, the owners British and Belgian and the factory in...

South Florida is home to a number of trendy leather goods producers. Here, a look at three companies that have set up shop.

J.P. OURSE & CIE

The name may be French, the owners British and Belgian and the factory in Bolivia, but home base for J.P. Ourse & Cie is Miami. Alain de C Grelle, who owns the company with David Sharples, said they chose Miami simply for its proximity to South America.

After five years, the company, which produces an upscale line of handbags and small leather goods, is experiencing strong growth. Sales rose to $2.2 million in 1993 from $1.2 million in 1992, and the company expects to hit the $3 million mark this year.

The designs are simple and clean without ornamentation and are meant to be functional, such as a combination agenda and purse.

Hooks on small bags and eyeglass cases attach to jeans or a larger bag, and flat “pendant” bags have attached wallets.

Prices range from $22 to $105 for the bags and $15 to $30 for small leather goods. The line sells in stores such as Barneys New York and I. Magnin, San Francisco.

THE COPA COLLECTION

Though Hurricane Andrew practically wiped out the seven-year-old company, it did give owners Barbara Hacker and Burly Smith the opportunity to venture into retail.

“It’s not our bread and butter, but it’s a good tool for testing merchandise,” explained Hacker of the year-old Coral Gables store, which doubles as a warehouse.

The company produces two distinct groups of bags under the Copa Collection label. The first group is classic leather handbags in clean, simple designs that are produced in the Orient. The second is an evening bag group which is manufactured in Brazil and uses soft leathers mixed with brass, copper and gemstones.

Prices range from $39 to $99 wholesale. They also have a line of accessories and gift items that incorporates the same look as the Brazilian handbags. The line sells mainly in specialty stores, such as Handbags Ltd., Marietta, Ga., and Leslie’s Handbags, Philadelphia.

ANN TURK

Glen Miller and his mother, Lillian Miller, started designing handbags on their dining-room table 12 years ago. Last year sales of the Ann Turk line hit $3.5 million wholesale.

Based in North Miami, the upscale handbag and small leather goods company will open its first store this February in South Beach.

The collection retails at such stores as Bloomingdale’s in New York, Nordstrom in Dallas and Joyce Boutiques in Hong Kong.

Wholesale prices range from $100 to $400 for leather bags and $450 to $3,500 for exotic skins, like alligator.