After being dormant for about a decade, the Mark Cross accessories brand gets relaunched tonight on QVC.
This story first appeared in the October 31, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The home shopping channel and Web site has the exclusive through January. Wholesaling could follow, depending on the QVC performance. Six years ago, Mark Cross was purchased by private investors, including J.P. Wilkin Jr., from Sara Lee Corp., which let the brand languish due to its focus on Coach.
Behind the relaunch are industry veterans Neal Fox, who has a minority interest in Mark Cross, as well as Joseph Cicio, a merchandising and retail consultant who has worked with Joan Rivers and Bobbie Brown on their QVC projects, and with the Prince of Wales with his Duchy Originals organic food business. Cicio is a former I. Magnin chief executive officer and former Macy’s Inc. senior vice president of creative and specialized merchandise groups.
“Most people in our business don’t understand the viability of QVC,” Cicio said. “They think of QVC as only for jewelry or cosmetics. But it does a huge business with Dooney & Bourke and sells upper-end brands as well as moderate brands.”
According to Fox, 10 Mark Cross handbag styles and a total of 30 stockkeeping units, priced from about $198 to $332, will be available on QVC. His wife, Martha Kramer, former president of Emanuel Ungaro USA, will be on the channel selling the products. “We want to establish traction with the brand first on QVC and reintroduce the brand to the [broader] marketplace. We have the ability to wholesale the collection in 2009,” Fox said.
“This really is a new niche for us, with more elevated price points,” added Tim Byrket, director of accessories at QVC, which will air the collection at 8 p.m. for an hour. QVC expects to also air Mark Cross in December and January.
The brand dates back to 1845, when Mark Cross and his family began crafting saddles, harnesses and trunks. For a while in the late 20th century, the brand was a leader in premium leather handbags and accessories. “The reintroduction is really about updated stylings and updated colors,” Byrket said. “There are status looks, top-quality leathers and embossings.”