THEY MAY HAVE THEIR ROOTS IN OTHER BUSINESSES BUT THESE TWO LINES ARE FLOURISHING.
Byline: Rose Apodaca Jones / Marcy Medina
Dita’s new accessories line includes a mini coin purse and a maxi shoulder bag. There are bags for the gym, weekend getaways and evenings out. There is also a “gadget bag,” designed to hold a cell phone, personal digital assistant or camera.
But nowhere in the inaugural collection of distressed leather styles, slated to ship in late May, is there anything designed to hold a pair of glasses — an oddity since Dita has long been viewed as an eyewear brand. According to company co-founder John Juniper, it’s not cost effective. “You’d be surprised what’s involved,” he said.
Dita, based just outside downtown Los Angeles, pulled in over $1 million in sales in 2001, said Juniper, who co-founded the company six years ago with his life-long best friend Jeff Solorio (a third founding partner has since left).
It’s the opening of Dita’s first store, slated for May 25 in Tokyo, that gave birth to the idea of adding products other than eyewear. Dita’s Japanese distributors, who partnered with Juniper and Solorio on the freestanding retail venture, suggested a more varied offering. With the launch of an accessories line, Dita expects to add $350,000 in volume during the collection’s first year. The line consists of 41 sku’s, wholesale-priced from $27 to $230. Offered in black, brown, burgundy, baby blue, camo-green and beige, inside each bag is a shock of orange, pink or green lining.
“Everything has a worn, vintage feel to it,” Juniper said. “It fit with the whole hippie, boho thing going on.”
You could say that Shelly Litvak grew up in the business. Since grade school, the Los Angeles-based accessories designer accompanied her mother, an antiques dealer and jewelry designer, to flea markets around the world. In fact, the inspiration for her line, called Shelly, struck when she saw a woman wearing a Native American leather shawl at an antiques show the Litvaks had set up shop in.
“I found myself drawn to that look, so I bought some leather and took an ivory piece out of our antiques case and made myself a necklace,” said Litvak, 25.
As is the case with many fledgling fashion concerns in L.A., word of mouth got the ball rolling. “I sold my first necklace to my hairdresser, who gave it to a friend for her birthday. Tracey Ross [who owns the boutique of the same name in West Hollywood] was at the party and saw it and flipped out,” said Litvak. “Then I called Delia Seaman, one of the owners of Curve [boutique]. And it just snowballed.”
Although her line is centered on hand-braided necklaces made with Victorian-era ivory pins, Litvak also makes leather belts, calfskin totes and messenger bags, and 14-karat gold and turquoise, coral and pearl earrings.
Her necklaces wholesale from $100 to $1,500, earrings from $350 to $475, lockets and star pendants for $300 and bags from $175 to $450.
After a year in business, Litvak’s accounts include Maxfield, Theodore, Barneys New York, Fred Segal and Tracey Ross in Los Angeles. Her rep is Aurora Lopez in the Telavera showroom in New York.