Oscar de la Renta will look to grow its accessories categories in an effort to better balance what is now a primarily apparel-driven business.
Chief executive officer Alex Bolen said that accessories account for about 10 percent of all Oscar de la Renta sales. He noted that fashion jewelry currently takes the bulk of those sales.
“I think, could accessories be half our overall business at one point? Sure, our business is dramatically skewed toward ready-to-wear right now. But we don’t have a growth target in mind — we want to focus on good design and a healthy business where products sell at full price,” he noted.
Bolen noted that upon cocreative directors Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim’s arrival at the label, a handbag design was part of the initial conversation of brand goals.
As part of Garcia and Kim’s first collection for the house, fall 2017, Oscar de la Renta introduced the TRO bag — a flap, shoulder style with a gardenia embellishment and chain link strap. TRO stands for “temporary restraining order,” a name that Bolen deigned “a little inside joke amongst Laura, Fernando and I.”
Bolen declined to comment if this moniker is a direct reference to the temporary restraining order filed by Carolina Herrera’s brand in 2016, which barred Kim from working at Oscar de la Renta. While the injunction was eventually lifted by a judge, the Herrera brand had filed the motion as a means to enforce a noncompete contract that Kim had signed while working as the company’s senior vice president for design.
The executive said that the TRO bag is performing well internationally, through a limited distribution with luxury retailers including Net-a-porter and Bergdorf Goodman. Bolen noted that the bag has accumulated a wait list at intermittent times,
The TRO is priced between $1,990 and $8,490, depending on the style’s composition and material. Bolen said that new bag introductions — including the Battery and Alibi styles created for pre-fall 2018 — will hit a similar price range.
“We are very much design driven [with our bags], not merchandising driven. We think bags and shoes for that matter can be expanded on tremendously, but we’d like to do it in a way where we come up with exciting design ideas leading the way — not have a merchandising plan where we push a hobo or a tote for the sake of it.
“The world is filled with brands that do an excellent job with handbags and honestly the world probably doesn’t need another one. So we will focus on good ideas.”
Next, the brand will look to expand on its shoe business, while also growing its fashion jewelry assortment — which is primarily produced in Rhode Island.
“We have found that fashion jewelry is a great way to get a truly Oscar de la Renta look at a lower price point,” Bolen said.
The brand has recently invested in its fashion jewelry business, by beefing up its design team and exploring new manufacturing capabilities.