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Piperlime.com, the year-old footwear e-commerce site owned by Gap Inc., is launching handbags today.
This story first appeared in the March 17, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“When we got into shoes, we got into the market and found that something was missing,” said Catherine Beaudoin, senior vice president and general manager of Piperlime.com. “We wanted to offer something different than what was out there. We offer fashion guidance and do it in an engaging and fun way with our own distinct voice. We’ve heard from our customers. They asked us for handbags, so it felt like the natural next step.”
Piperlime carries 200 brands of footwear for men, women and children in a range of brands from Aerosoles to Sigerson Morrison. The shoes are merchandised in several ways, such as by trend, price point and expert’s picks. Stylist Rachel Zoe has a deal with the firm in which she chooses her favorite looks of the season. The site also enables the consumer to view the shoes from many angles. The handbag category will also include similar features.
“We shoot items from the inside of the bag to see if it has any compatibility,” said Jennifer Gosselin, vice president of merchandising. “We also show it next to a body form so you could see how it would look on.”
Handbag brands on the site include Botkier and Marc by Marc Jacobs, along with new brands such as Pa-Tou-Tou and Olivia Harris. There is a fairly broad price range, from $84 for Chinese Laundry’s Double Handle Shoulder Tote to as much as $695 for Botkier’s Gladiator tote.
“We do have some core constituency,” Beaudoin said. “The thing that links everyone together is that they’re completely into fashion. They’re not looking for a utilitarian experience, not a warehouse experience.”
Beaudoin said women from their 20s into their 40s shop on the site.
The company declined to provide sales projections for the handbags business.
For now, Piperlime is not extending into other categories. The brand is working on increasing public awareness and traffic on the site through direct mail and e-mail. There is Piperlime signage in Banana Republic stores, also a unit of Gap Inc.