By  on January 11, 2010

John Varvatos Enterprises is introducing an extensive collection of leather accessories under the contemporary Star USA brand, furthering the youthful, rock-inspired label’s growth. The new line of bags, belts, bracelets and small leather goods is expected to be a significant main-floor resource for premium department stores, potentially with double-exposure in locations that have Star USA shop-in-shops.

The line is manufactured by licensee Cipriani Accessories, which produces goods for brands including Calvin Klein, Lacoste, Guess and Michael Kors. Varvatos and Cipriani first collaborated in the early Nineties, when Varvatos was a designer at Calvin Klein.

“If we made this ourselves, it wouldn’t have the same quality-price value, and we really wanted a lot of that because we felt there was a huge void in the market for the price we’re doing and the consumer we’re going after,” said Varvatos. “As we know, the customer is looking for more value today. Price hasn’t been as important in John Varvatos Collection, thank goodness, because that designer customer already perceives the value there. But we’re going after a much bigger market here with Star USA. A Collection bag is $995 to $1,895, [whereas] these are $165 to $595, with most between $225 and $350.”

Some of the bags are hand-stitched Italian leather, with raw-cut edges and chunky hardware. Some are nylon-leather combinations, and others are screened with rocker motifs such as guitars, skulls and cannabis.

In each product category there are tough-looking styles that feature studs, zips, grommets and hand-tooled leather, as well as dressier pieces with smooth finishes. The Star USA peace-hand and flag logos appear throughout the collection, either as decorative hardware or hidden on linings.

Small leather goods start at $68 retail; belts start at $65. The pricing is intended to be accessible for all doors of the department stores.

“We’ll definitely be in Bloomingdale’s in a major way. We’re also targeting Nordstrom, Saks and specialty stores. In our own stores we’ve only carried Collection accessories, but now there’s an opportunity to carry the best of this, as well,” said Varvatos.

The development of all the hardware and materials began in July, and the partners finally turned out enough product for multiple collections because they wanted to send the market a strong message.

“We are a main-floor resource in all these stores, and I can tell you there’s nothing like this. Nothing,” said Cipriani chief executive officer Evan Mittman.

Star USA was launched with sportswear in fall 2006 and expanded rapidly into tailored clothing, dress furnishings and shoes. The shoes offered for resort enjoyed 16 percent to 35 percent weekly sell-throughs, said Varvatos.

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