Accessories are no longer just a theory at Theory. Andrew Rosen’s contemporary brand, known for sophisticated, spot-on-trend separates, is jumping into the category for spring with the launch of a full collection of bags and several shoe styles.
This story first appeared in the November 24, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The company, which earlier this year rehired original Theory designer Lisa Kulson as creative director of women’s design following the departure of Olivier Theyskens, has also brought on a newly hired accessories team.
Theory has dabbled in footwear in the past — including collaborations with designer Rachel Comey and a few shoes to complete the styling of Theyskens’ sportswear — moves a company spokesman likened to “more experimenting with the category.” Now, the brand, founded in 1997 and currently approaching $1 billion in global sales, plans to market accessories in a big way, stocking shelves on Jan. 15 at Theory retail stores and theory.com with a significant buy.
Successfully interpreting the brand’s aesthetic, the bags are soft, unstructured and relatively unadorned, save for a finely embossed “Theory” or stitching detail in the shape of a T. There are three key styles: The core look, dubbed the Urban, has a leather-flap closure and is shown in both an east-west and north-south body. Tying in with the color-blocked stripe motif of the spring sportswear collection, it features doubled-up straps that are interchangeable via a swivel clip. Other styles include the Signature, a tote available in both day and weekend versions, and the Post, a clutch done in a cross-body and shoulder style with removable straps. Made from rich, buttery leather and leather-backed suede, the bags will retail from $295 for the clutch to $745 for the leather Urban style.
Rosen said he wants the bags to last forever and have a discreet style, which influenced his decision to source them in Italy, a move that indicates a desire for quality product over profit margins.
According to Rosen, accessories will push the Theory aesthetic into a new category. “Theory needs to evolve with the lifestyle of its clients, who increasingly want to identify with brands across multiple categories and channels,” he explained. “We have invested significantly in design and development, and we have the infrastructure to launch accessories via our own retail network with an approach that is at once ambitious and measured.” For Theory shoes, Rosen worked with recent CFDA Fashion Fund winner Paul Andrew to produce two key styles for spring: a flat crisscross sandal with an espadrille sole and a simple block-heel sandal. Andrew will guide initial production, and price points — $495 and $595, respectively — align with the designer niche. There are currently plans to launch five more shoe styles for pre-fall and at least one additional bag. Theory is also said to be developing a men’s leather goods collection.