“If you do shoes, you should do handbags,” said Pour La Victoire co-founder and chief executive officer Jay Adoni, with a shrug meant to punctuate the obvious. “It’s the number one and two accessory on a women’s body.”
This story first appeared in the July 5, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The obvious may be, well, obvious, but it isn’t always the easiest route.
Pour La Victoire, the shoe brand, was launched in 2007 and began shipping during the fourth quarter that year, just as the economy started to fall apart.
“That was our opportunity,” said Adoni, a 35-year veteran of the shoe business, who founded L.J. Simone in the Seventies and hired Steve Madden as a sales rep. “We positioned the brand where we saw an opening.”
That opening price point was at the lower end of the luxury market, a tactic the company is now replicating with its handbag line set to launch this summer — first at Nordstrom this month, then at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and various upscale specialty boutiques in July and August.
“The $295 to $495 price point is really the zone that handbags are working,” said Kenny Horowitz, president of handbags. “The handbag business in the last couple of years has been in a funk, a standstill. People now want value, something for under $500 to $400.”
Horowitz, a 30-year veteran of the bag business who spent 18 years developing Kenneth Cole’s handbag division and eight years working at Steve Madden and Betsey Johnson, moved quickly through PLV’s bright, spacious showroom situated a block from the Empire State Building.
“I deliver new product every month,” he said, offering examples of the new contemporary line that includes metal minaudières, smooth rectangular leather totes, fashion-forward hobos adorned with astrakhan fur and square, embossed croc leather satchels.
“We’re straddling both the aspirational price point and the luxury price point,” according to co-founder and president David Giordano, a former Wall Street trader turned fashion exec, who said the value message is built into the brand’s name.
“Pour La Victoire is a cry against opulence,” he said, explaining the name references the French Revolution.
According to the owners, handbags are just the beginning of PLV’s expansion plans. The company expects to open anchor stores in cities such as New York, Paris and Milan in 2012.
Additionally, Giordano hinted that he’d like to expand the brand into apparel, a sector where he got his start, working for BCBG and Theory.
“We all have a lot of experience,” said Horowitz, who wandered back to the interview, in hopes of corralling his buddies back to work. “We live and breathe what we do.”