Contrary to what the name of her company suggests, Dylan’s Candy Bar founder Dylan Lauren has more in store for her customers than sweets.
Through a partnership with Claire’s Inc., Dylan’s Candy Bar has expanded its collection to include jewelry, nail polish, lip product and tech accessories. The candy-inspired assortment — charm bracelets, lollipop-shaped earrings, gum-ball necklaces and other noncaloric pieces — retail for less than $16 and are being sold in Dylan’s Candy Bar stores and its e-commerce site, as well as Claire’s Web site and hundreds of its stores.
Sugarholics can find them in Dylan’s Candy Bar stores in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and East Hampton, N.Y. They are also being rolled out to her outposts in John F. Kennedy International Airport, the Mohegan Sun Casino, Detroit International Airport, the Empire State Building and Neiman Marcus concept shops.
Just as her fashion-designer father Ralph has his own echelon of branding, Dylan Lauren has steadily been broadening her reach with sugar fiends since starting her company in 2001. While the Candy Girl rock-candylike nail polish, iPhone cases stamped with an ice cream cone design, faux leather bracelets covered with jellybeans and Whirly Pop-scented press-on nails are aimed at those between the ages of 8 and 20, many shoppers in their 20s and 30s have been splurging for them. “I know I’ve always shopped for costume jewelry as a fun accessory. We’re seeing that a lot. It just goes to show you that candy is not just for kids,” she said. “We’re a candy store, but I have always tried to merge candy with fashion and Pop Art to make it more of a lifestyle brand.”
Inspired by artists such as Dale Chihuly, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol, Lauren aims to relay a certain artfulness with colorful Pop Art-inspired displays. An oversize lollipop tree is meant to be faintly reminiscent of Chihuly’s handblown glass pieces. Lauren, who is keen on decoupage made with candy wrappers and mosaics created out of gum balls, said, “We’re curating candy like art in a gallery.”
Be that as it may, the sugar-powered girls at Sunday’s launch party for the Candy Girl Collection seemed to have their eyes on gumballs, cupcakes and rock candy lip gloss, more so than art. Lauren and her cohost Darcy Miller, Martha Stewart Weddings’ editorial director, also served up photo-ops, chalk hair highlights and candy-shaped tattoos for their underage guests. One fervent sales associate by the name of “Anthony” created a makeshift Candy Girl runway, teaching the girls how to work the runway and leading the crowd in cheers as they put his advice to work. They and other Dylan’s shoppers will have more personalized Candy Girl pieces and higher-end jewelry to choose from in the coming months.
Lauren said she is scouting new locations for Dylan’s Candy Bar stores in San Francisco, Chicago and Toronto. Last year’s alliance with LeSportsac was a success in Hong Kong and Singapore, among other places, thanks in part to candy-colored wallpaper, window displays and a well-curated collection, Lauren said. Dylan’s Candy Bar will eventually open overseas boutiques, with Japan and London being at the top of her wish list. While the freestanding stores range from 5,000 to 15,000 square feet, Lauren also has her eye on more-contained properties such as the one that opened in March in the JetBlue terminal at JFK.
Exploring licenses for sunglasses, handbags, flip-flops, rain boots and umbrellas is also part of her game plan. (Even manufacturers of dog-related merchandise have inquired about deals.)
Through the wholesale side of her company, Lauren has collaborated with Juicy Couture, Jonathan Adler, Tory Burch and Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers label. Her company also sold gift baskets for a limited time during the holidays in her father’s stores. The two Laurens talk about similar prospects all the time, though nothing is set in stone now. And while her candy emporium sells signature T-shirts and pajamas, Lauren does not envision diving deeper into apparel. “I will leave it to my dad to be the designer of clothes,” she said.