A BRAND NEW BAG

Byline: HOLLY HABER

DALLAS — Chic style at a cheap price. That’s the simple strategy that propelled Creative Collections handbags to a stunning $500,000 in volume after only one year in business.
It was the obvious angle for company founder Cora Velasco Taylor, who watched Eighties’ excess shrivel to Nineties thriftiness during sales stints at Neiman Marcus, Lilly Dodson and Loretta Blum.
“I felt there was a need for handbags with a designer look at affordable prices,” Taylor said. “I wanted to do clothing, but the competition is so big.”
Her 65-piece line offers a range of looks, from elegant little kelly bags to clear vinyl backpacks. But her signature style is a structured evening purse with a bit of ornamentation, like pavA pearls, black soutache or an antique gold carved wooden handle.
“Gone are those classics and basics,” Taylor said. “Novelty items are the hot thing.”
Her bestseller: a four-by-four-inch black fake-leather evening bag with a pavA pearl flap and a pearl and gold chain shoulder strap. Taylor calls it a “lipstick” bag. Wholesale prices are $18 to $45.
“I wanted everything to retail for under $100,” Taylor pointed out. “That’s a guiltless price that people can buy any season.”
Al Gallagher bought some of Taylor’s evening bags for Lilly Dodson. “They’re doing wonderfully,” he said. “The price is right, and they’re cute.”
For fall, Taylor plans to add animal-print velour, microfiber and brown and black leather to the range of materials she uses. She already offers rayon and silk ottoman, rayon and silk faille, jute, raffia woven with linen, linen with soutache, suede, Lucite, vinyl fake leather and patent vinyl. All styles have shoulder straps and magnetic closures.
“I always put myself into the position of the buyer and ask, ‘Would I buy this for my own store?”‘ Taylor said. “And if I vacillate, then I take it out.”
The strategy is working: Taylor counts 350 specialty accounts, including Helen’s Of Course in Seattle and Lilly Dodson here. She expects a 35 percent sales increase in 1995.
Taylor’s line is shown in two corporate showrooms in the International Apparel Mart: rooms 4F07 and 4845. Taylor finds that different buyers stop by each showroom since they are at opposite ends of the building, so she signs more new accounts.

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