NEW YORK — Derek Lam is moving full steam ahead with accessories and building his executive team.
Lam, who launched a capsule collection of handbags in-house for fall, has inked a licensing deal with Tod’s SpA for shoes, handbags and small leather goods, and with Modo for eyewear. Both licensed collections will launch for spring retailing.
Lam is no stranger to Tod’s. For the past year, the designer has worked with the Italian leather goods house to create a capsule collection of sportswear. The line launched in select Tod’s stores this spring, and the company has decided to extend the collaboration for six more seasons.
Lam will design the handbags, shoes and small leather goods, which will be developed by a dedicated team at Tod’s. The Italian firm, headquartered near Ancona, will produce and distribute the collection. The worldwide licensing arrangement is for two years, with the option of a three-year renewal.
Lam said it was still too early to disclose design details. “It’s important for me to always do something that continues the statement of the collection,” he said. “To me, accessories always have to be sensual. They need to allow women to be comfortable in her own gestures, which is my overall statement in design.”
Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann, chief executive of Derek Lam Co. LLC, said he encouraged the deal with Tod’s because the company is “truly global, and we always said we wanted to be a global brand.”
“Footwear is an easy decision to license, because it is such a technical area,” Schlottmann added. “Manufacturing handbags may be easier than shoes, but it was a great opportunity to be doing it with Tod’s. If you find a partner like Tod’s, you can’t go wrong.”
This isn’t the first such arrangement for Diego Della Valle, Tod’s chairman and ceo.
“In the past, the Della Valle family has had several licensing agreements with designers such as Azzedine Alaïa, Gianfranco Ferré, Romeo Gigli, Christian Lacroix and Calvin Klein, but in the last few years, Tod’s has concentrated all its efforts in successfully producing its own lines,” explained Claudio Castiglioni, chief commercial officer of Tod’s. “Considering the already existing collaboration between the companies in producing the Tod’s ready-to-wear collection, and the good relationship with the designer [Lam], we made an exception.”
The handbags and shoes are expected to launch during the spring Accessories market this August.
Lam also signed a three-year worldwide licensing deal with New York-based Modo to manufacture and distribute Derek Lam-branded eyewear, which will be launched during spring fashion week in September. Schlottmann conceded that eyewear wasn’t too high on the agenda, but when Lam met the Modo executives and saw the quality of their company’s eyewear, which is manufactured in Italy and in Japan, he was inspired to make an eyewear statement. It will be targeted to upscale optical stores as well as fashion specialty stores.
Asked for his accessories philosophy, Lam said: “It’s very individual. The chicest thing I saw was a picture of Tina Chow running around in an Yves Saint Laurent patent leather trench with a paper bag.”
Schlottmann declined to disclose the size of the Derek Lam business, but said that for the past three years, it has grown 120 percent annually and made a profit for the first time this year. North America accounts for 45 percent of Lam’s sales. Schlottmann added that the new accessories categories will be made available first to retailers who already sell Derek Lam apparel, followed by the Tod’s distribution channel and other specialty stores. Lam’s sportswear collection is sold in 130 doors worldwide, including Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, select Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom stores, Fred Segal, Maria Luisa in Paris, Joseph in London and Brown Thomas in Dublin.
In other developments, Lam relocated to a new 5,500-square-foot showroom and office space replete with a sample room at 601 West 26th Street in February. Earlier this month, the designer, who employs a staff of 20, promoted Jeanine Elias, executive vice president of sales, to president of the company, a newly created post. Elias oversees the label’s entire sales, logistics, production and financing efforts. Lam has also taken public relations in-house, tapping Risa Scobie as vice president of communications and marketing.
Next up? Retail. Now that the designer is widening his reach with new categories, he and Schlottmann are moving closer to their first freestanding store, which Schlottmann said is planned by the end of next year. If Lam had his way, though, the store would open much sooner. “Tomorrow,” he quipped.