Balancing the goal to grow a business based on the California lifestyle and craftsmanship with the retail challenge of avoiding deep discounts and unmanageable inventory, Lucky Brand is relaunching its handbag business next spring with a new licensee.
The Los Angeles-based denim and sportswear brand is partnering with Camuto Group, ending a four-year relationship with Showroom35. Based in New York, Showroom35 will produce its last collection for Lucky for the holiday season before its contract ends in December.
Lucky Brand has built a successful partnership with Camuto Group. For the past eight years, the Greenwich, Conn.-based company founded by the late Vince Camuto has made shoes for Lucky. Camuto has increased Lucky’s sales each year, and one of the booties that it introduced in 2015 became the best-selling shoe at wholesale for Lucky, according to Carlos Alberini, Lucky’s chief executive officer. “That success is founded on their understanding of the DNA of our brand,” he said. “Our teams work together very well.”
Camuto Group is picking up the license for designing, manufacturing and distributing Lucky’s handbags. Inspired by global travel, the bags can be slung across the body, hung like slouchy hobos or used to tote daily necessities. Details include jacquard, patchwork, ethnic embroidery, hand-studding and heritage leather. “Our sweet spot in pricing is $198 to $248,” Alberini said, adding that Lucky plans to offer items priced above $298 for its top-door accounts. “We think handbags are at the core of a lot of the things we’re doing, especially to anchor an accessories business. We think this is strategic and a big financial opportunity as well for the brand.”
Although declining to disclose sales or estimate how large the handbag business could be, Alberini said Lucky’s total sales in the first half of this year showed growth from the same period a year ago. In 2014, Lucky posted $560 million in annual sales. It currently operates 175 full-price stores and 85 outlet units in the U.S. and Canada. Alberini dismissed the idea of opening freestanding shops that sold only accessories. Lucky’s strategy is to build on the lifestyle-based retail concept it unveiled last year at The Point shopping center in El Segundo, Calif.
“We want to take elements from that environment and incorporate it into new store openings,” he said. “We are trying to build a full lifestyle brand and we consider this category to be completely critical to that.”