Byline: Andrea M. Grossman

NEW YORK — While Colette Malouf won’t — – rather can’t — – reveal the inspiration that drives her to create some of the craftiest hair accessories on the market, she can provide some helpful hints.
“The secret is in the merchandising mix. The Colette Malouf brand promises innovation and quality,” Malouf said from her SoHo showroom. “People have to understand the value.”
Certainly many people understand Malouf’s value — she is in nearly 200 stores nationwide — but charging $50 to $80 on average per hair accessory required Malouf to explore another definition of value.
This March, Malouf’s lower-priced line of hair accessories, CM New York, gains permanent placement in stores such as Dillard’s, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s in an effort to expand her brand’s appeal. CM New York isn’t geared toward a younger shopper necessarily, but rather to one wanting Malouf’s take on the ordinary without the hefty price tag. “It’s like what Miu Miu is to Prada,” Malouf noted. CM New York prices range from $7.50 for a decorative elastic to $35 for a stretch suede headband.
Malouf developed CM New York in May 1999. The line, which in most cases is packaged in plastic and includes step-by-step instructions on how to use the accessory, has appeared in stores such as Bloomingdale’s for the past two back-to-school selling seasons. Malouf declined to comment on sales expectations of CM New York, but industry sources expect it to generate approximately $650,000 in annual sales for 2001. Entering Dillard’s and Lord & Taylor has caused a bit of deja vu for Malouf, whose products first appeared in such retailers in the Eighties.
“They used to be a big part of my business,” Malouf said. However, once Malouf found her niche in upscale, artsy hair accessories, her clients began to include Henri Bendel, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.
Malouf may also be on her way to scouting out yet another retail opportunity: She quietly noted she’s been looking at real estate to open her own store.

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