View Slideshow

NEW YORK — Swarovski is convinced its business has the potential to sparkle more brightly and is looking to its own fashion accessories to burnish the shine.

During the next year, the Wattens, Austria-based crystal maker intends to introduce an expanded offering of its collection of jewelry, handbags, belts, watches and sunglasses. The collection will have a more fashion-forward direction and will cover a wider price range to bridge the more affordable Swarovski and luxury Daniel Swarovski collections.

The company also wants to improve its overall distribution, with the U.S. as a primary focus. Swarovski has announced it will open 30 stores here by the close of 2007. Many of the units, which will average 800 square feet and be in malls, lifestyle centers and venues such as casinos and airports, will feature an updated retail design.

Swarovski will also seek in coming years to retrofit its existing 80 North American boutiques with the same retail design. The company will rethink its wholesale business, targeting department stores that it wasn’t able to service before because of its pricing structure, and better tailor its selection to independent boutiques. Swarovski wholesales to Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Marshall Field’s, among other department stores, and independent jewelers, gift stores and home goods retailers.

“Accessories today is our highest growth business opportunity,” said Jim Ricci, Swarovski’s vice president of marketing in North America. “Three years ago, it was 35 percent of our business globally and now it’s 50 percent. The fashion-driven business is what has really taken off, but we realized we’re underdeveloped there. So we plan to grow the fashion-driven business exponentially.”

The goal is to double the overall Swarovski business by 2012, Ricci said. The company reported volume of $2.65 billion in 2005. Half of the sales came from its consumer goods business division, which comprises accessories and the home assortment, like collectible figurines, vases, ornaments and dinnerware. The other half was derived from its components, which include the loose crystals it supplies to products from the likes of Judith Leiber and Jimmy Choo. Swarovski also does a niche business creating specialized lenses and optics for binoculars.

“There is a demand out there for the designers who use our [crystals],” said Kevin Coen, executive vice president of North America. “There are also people looking for fully branded product lines. There’s a little overlap, but they don’t necessarily compete.”

This story first appeared in the May 1, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Swarovski’s autumn-winter collection, titled Poetic Night, begins to usher in the new direction for the brand. The collection of some 430 accessories pieces is topped off by its Daniel Swarovski couture goods priced at retail from $500 into the thousands of dollars. It comprises ornately jeweled dome rings, bracelets dripping with chains of violet crystals, long earrings featuring pink and gray briolettes, long chain necklaces with chunky clear crystals and a black tassel, and multicolored croc purses with crystal-encrusted chain handles.

The Swarovski line, which had been priced between $150 and $200, will have some looks costing as much as $500. The line features a belt in gold leather with bands of yellow or white Swarovski crystals; wrappable “scarf” chain necklaces accented at the ends with Chinese symbols, red tassels and black-and-red crystal orbs, a purple velvet evening bag that is finished by a frame closure bearing an abstract wing from which dangles a light blue crystal, and gold chain earrings finished with beetle-inspired ovals of blue and green crystals. The assortment is based on the Art Nouveau period, the era when the 111-year-old company was founded by Daniel Swarovski.

In addition to expanding bridge-priced goods, Ricci said Swarovski is rethinking its handbags, watches and sunglasses. The handbags, which include day looks, will be more focused on evening styles. Sunglasses, which are created under a

license with Silhouette Eyewear, will be expanded, as will watch styles.

“We think we can make a big play here and we haven’t,” said Ricci, adding that hair accessories are another category the brand is exploring.

The family-run firm, which has seen the fifth generation of descendants take executive positions over the last two years, is complementing its accessories push with a new branding campaign that will begin in the fall. The campaign, shot by Craig McDean, will include images portraying the world of Swarovski, as well as ones focused on specific product. The media buy has not yet been determined.

“It’s not the first time consumers are going to see us,” Coen said. “We just hope they are going to see us in a fuller capacity now. We would like them to consider us as more of a fashion-forward brand than just a collectible brand. We feel like if we can create a full story of drama and relevance for the consumer, then we’ve got a winning formula.”

To help in the transition, Nathalie Colin Roblique was hired in February as creative director, overseeing the consumer goods business division, a first for a brand that has only had creative directors over specific lines.