Judith Ripka is diversifying into bags on QVC.
The designer, who has sold her jewelry on QVC for almost 14 years, introduced her first bags, six leather styles manufactured by Tiger J LLC, on the shopping network Sunday night, with more styles to be unveiled Dec. 10 and Dec. 18.
“I have always loved handbags,” said Ripka, founder of The Judith Ripka Companies Inc. “Like jewelry, a handbag is a great accessory. I have had a great time creating my new handbag collection, especially because I collaborated with my daughter-in-law, Allison Ripka.
Both women share a love of color, so the leather and jacquard bags are available in bold hues including amethyst and turquoise. Leather textures include python and crocodile, as well as quilted, metallic, sueded and canvaslike treatments. The bags, which sell for $129 to $350, feature Ripka’s signature Southampton texturing on the hardware and closures, as well as the fleur-de-lis design in the silk linings.
Ripka seized the chance to work with longtime friend Mark Locks, owner of Tiger J, which manufactures apparel, faux fur and bags for video retailers QVC, HSN, ShopNBC and Canada’s The Shopping Channel. Locks estimated the company’s bag business, which launched in May with bags for Isaac Mizrahi and Rachel Zoe, would be $15 million by the end of 2010.
“Given Judith’s attention to detail and keeping her brand consistent, it has been a more involved process to produce this line than any other because she is so hands-on,” Locks said.
QVC declined to make sales projections for the Ripka bags. Ronald Berk, chief executive officer of the Judith Ripka company, said, “We expect the bags will resonate with customers as well as the jewelry.”
QVC is also betting on Ripka. “Judith has a very strong customer base at QVC, and we focused on her because it was the brand most likely to have a natural extension into handbags and her customers have been asking for them for years,” said Diane Paccione, QVC’s vice president of merchandising for beauty and jewelry. Paccione predicted black would be the most popular color, and that clutches, totes and hobos would be the most popular styles.