Byline: Amanda Meadus

NEW YORK — What started out as a fairly modest handbag company 10 years ago has grown into a brand-name accessories empire.
Accessory Network, which began life as Bagland, a private label handbag firm with first-year wholesale volume of $9 million, is now a major industry player that does more than $100 million in sales annually. The firm is showcasing its impressive roster of brand-name licenses, including Gitano, Sasson, Chic, L.A. Gear, Aspen, Hanna Barbera and Warner Bros., at WWD/
MAGIC, in its first time at a trade show. Many of Accessory Network’s brands are geared for the mass market, but it has department store distribution as well.
The company produces virtually every category of accessories except fashion jewelry — and founder and president Abe Chehebar said that may not be far off.
“We see a definite opportunity there, though we won’t go into any new area unless we have extremely well-qualified people to run the division,” Chehebar said, revealing one way his firm has managed its rapid growth. “Right now, we’re considering building that type of team in jewelry, and also possibly even in other areas such as health and beauty products, luggage and men’s accessories.” During its relatively short history, Accessory Network has been through some big changes. In 1990, for example, The Gitano Group purchased the firm, which was already producing Gitano bags under license. The name change, a big step for the company, came in 1991 when the firm expanded beyond handbags and began producing small leather goods, hats, scarves and other accessories. And in 1993, Accessory Network bought itself back from Gitano and began operating again as a privately held company.
Throughout it all, however, the firm has operated along the same lines, Chehebar pointed out.
“Our strong points are basic things — product focus, strong value orientation, solid marketing and management, superior sourcing capabilities and outstanding performance at retail,” he said. “And, believe it or not, we literally remind ourselves out loud every day that these are the factors that got us where we are.”