New York Fashion Week’s accessories spectrum was laden with new talents — many offering directional designs at competitive prices.
Labels such as Staud, Susan Alexandra, Takesh, Suzanne Rae and Rebecca de Ravenel introduced new accessory designs priced at under $500. Now some established independent luxury brands such as Paul Andrew are reviewing their pricing structures in light of the success of these more affordable labels.
Andrew, who held a presentation during NYFW, noted that he has recently adjusted his pricing — with styles now starting at $495 and the core business hitting between $695 and $750, retail.
“If product design is king, then pricing is queen today,” Andrew, also the creative director of Ferragamo’s women’s collections, proclaimed. “I think in the market right now there is such a focus on a contemporary price point — you can get a lot for less, so in order to still be relevant in this designer luxury market, at least in my brand, it’s been important to broaden the [pricing] spectrum,” he said.
Fashion-forward brands offering competitively priced shoes such as By Far, Paloma Wool and About Arianne have forgone fashion week presentations, instead releasing images of their new designs on Instagram and taking booths at contemporary trade shows such as Capsule and Man/Woman.
Handbags and eyewear, too, are seeing a pricing revolution.
One of the more popular eyewear designers leading the charge is Niki Takesh. A former DJ and stylist, Takesh launched her namesake brand in July via Instagram. For now she peddles a single, viral style — a pair of cat-eye, heart-shaped lenses, offered in an array of color combinations, priced at $169, retail. “One of my incentives for starting this brand is how I couldn’t understand paying so much money for a piece of plastic. I wanted to put it at a price point that wasn’t too unjustifiable but where I could offer good quality,” Takesh, who is developing new styles, said of her label.
Takesh owes much of her success to Instagram and sells the majority of her glasses direct-to-consumer, with limited quantities available at select retailers including Opening Ceremony and Rare Market. “Doing wholesale is kind of a headache, I do so well direct-to-consumer and I almost want to say ‘no’ to stores. It’s a lot of work, but I do it for exposure and so people who see the glasses online can go to a store and try them on,” she said.
Takesh’s line participated in a NYFW event hosted by Opening Ceremony at the Ace Hotel, which supported emerging brands.
There, Opening Ceremony women’s buyer Peter Meckel said: “Eyewear at a luxury store has always been at a $200 to $400 price point. Nikki’s brand is really in this interesting new price tier. The aesthetic is really young and the fact that young consumers can actually afford the look is really special.”
Susan Alexandra, another accessories brand to participate in the Opening Ceremony event, has also found viral success. Initially a jewelry label, the brand’s designer Susan Korn introduced a range of beaded, made-in-New-York handbags this summer. The colorful designs — priced at under $300 — have quickly grown to 75 percent of her business.
“I want to be positioned in the market in a very democratic way,” Korn said. “I make my bags locally, which means that I’m paying people a fair wage to produce them. The markup is not incredibly high but also because I’m focusing on direct-to-consumer sales, how I price my bags is a different story.”
Meckel said of Korn’s success: “For so long bags were really expensive and often leather-based. I think her design is fresh, it really resonates — it’s a price point, a size and a material that is really fresh in the contemporary bag space.”
Clara Cornet, creative and merchandising director for Galeries Lafayette, said of the growing trend for mid-price bags: “A Gucci bag still feels like an investment piece, where these mid-range bags are more of a fashion statement. It’s good for business because, for a luxury consumer, it’s an add-on. When you buy a Gucci bag for $2,500 and add on a Staud bucket bag for $300, you feel like you get the investment and the fashion for adding 10 percent on your purchase — it’s like not even the tax.”
Staud, the Los Angeles-based brand by Sarah “Staud” Staudinger, found fame with its Bisette bucket bag that was initially offered in a direct-to-consumer model. Upon opening wholesale accounts for resort 2018, the label had raised its prices slightly to accommodate the loss of margin. For fall 2018, Staudinger and business partner George Augusto decided to reduce prices back to their original level.
The majority of the brand’s handbags are priced between $300 and $400 retail. Accessories account for half the company’s sales.
Augusto noted of pricing: “I think part of it is the simplicity of wanting friends to be able to afford the things you make.
“It’s thinking about ‘What exactly are you paying for?’ Is it the product or the packaging or the expensive store on the really expensive street? People are savvy now, and know you are not paying for the item itself — it’s more all of these things, which newer customers don’t care about as much.”
Thus, Staud has retooled its packaging and other extraneous expenses “to create better value.”
“Value really means something now to every customer, even to someone who can afford something at six to seven times the price,” Augusto said.
According to Korn and Takesh, value is chiefly important in the minds of today’s young consumers — who consider how their fashion choices will resonate amongst a community of online followers.
“With Instagram, now that our outfits and lives are so documented, we can’t outfit repeat. You don’t want to spend all that money,” Takesh said.
Korn added: “We are living in such a quick pace, Instagram-ruled trend world. Trends change so rapidly, things are in one second, but because of technology, they get oversaturated so fast. It’s not about just seeing it on the street, you see it on your phone every five seconds. I don’t think people want to spend so much money on something that will be over-exploited in a matter of weeks. It’s another reason I keep my prices low — we are in such a disposable fashion climate.”