Christie’s Auctions Luxury Handbags in Hong Kong

Hermes handbagChristie’s conducted its first live auction of over 120 luxury handbags from top designers, including Hermes, Chanel, Bottega Veneta, and Louis Vuitton, in Hong Kong on November 24. The collection of handbags is estimated to be worth nearly $1 million.

The auction house hoped to draw in new buyers who have not participated in auctions before and to attract newly wealthy members of Asian society. Hong Kong has become the world’s third largest auction center, after London and New York.

The auction was expected to reinforce demand for luxury goods such as handbags and to increase appreciation for their enduring value. It should also benefit people who already own luxury handbags. Auctioning the vintage bags highlighted their craftsmanship, sophistication, and materials, which could reinforce the value of handbags that people already own.

Luxury handbags can cost thousands of dollars when new. These vintage handbags stand out because many of them come from limited editions with unusual hardware or exotic skins, such as porosus crocodile and ostrich. Some of the handbags are also offered in colors that have been discontinued.

The collection included handbags prized for their rarity, craftsmanship, and heritage. Many of the bags are in excellent condition. The selection included a 1993 Hermes Kelly handbag made from saltwater crocodile skin in sapphire blue and a matte gray crocodile skin Hermes Birkin, which were expected to sell for tens of thousands of dollars each.

Christie’s is hoping to expand its reach in the secondary market for luxury handbags, which are often in demand for collectors who consider them a wise investment. Buyers of secondhand goods may not be able to tell if an item is authentic. A reputable auction house like Christie’s can verify authenticity and protect buyers and sellers. Christie’s will not provide certificates of authenticity, but it will guarantee any statements made about the handbags for five years.

Christie’s created a separate Handbags & Accessories category in 2011 and began selling bags online based in London. This is the first time Christie’s has sold handbags as a separate category at a live auction.

Mulberry Introduces Less Expensive Products to Boost Sales

Mulberry handbagsIn an attempt to boost sales and appeal to younger consumers, luxury handbag maker Mulberry is introducing less expensive bags and accessories.

The company is introducing a line of several more affordable accessories to appeal to middle class shoppers. The collection includes phone covers, tasseled keyrings, and totes that cost significantly less than other handbags, such as the Cara Delevingne bag that was introduced earlier this year.

In a bid to appeal to younger customers, Mulberry has introduced the Blossom Collection. It includes electric bright totes and rain boots.

Mulberry has introduced a complimentary monogramming service at some of its locations for the holiday season. Customers can have their purchases embellished with letters, numbers, Christmas trees, presents with bows, holly sprigs, and snowflakes.

In a new Christmas advertisement, family members try to outdo each other with their gifts. The grandmother wins by presenting her granddaughter with a new Mulberry handbag.

Mulberry is also introducing products for pets. It has partnered with luxury dog and cat outfitters Mungo & Maud for a collection of collars and leads.

Mulberry has been struggling this year. The British brand has faced four consecutive profit warnings. The last caused it to lose almost 20 percent of its value in a single day. Its share price is down over 70 percent since May 2012.

Emma Hill became creative director in 2007 and created the “Alexa” satchel, which still accounts for 27 percent of Mulberry’s sales, and transformed the company into the fastest-growing luxury brand in 2011. Bruno Guillon, who served previously as managing director at Hermes, was appointed CEO to raise quality and prices. However, Hill soon announced her departure, and prices skyrocketed.

Mulberry is trying to boost sales and make a comeback. Company executives hope that the new products will appeal to customers who are drawn to the brand but who cannot afford a classic Mulberry handbag.

Kate Spade Reports Jump in Sales

Kate Spade handbagKate Spade Co. is positioning itself as a leader in the luxury handbag market. Sales rose by 30 percent from $192.7 million in the second quarter to $250.4 million in the third quarter and are expected to reach $1 billion by the end of the year. That led shares to rise by 21 percent.

The brand is popular with young people and celebrities. Teenagers Malia and Sasha Obama, daughters of President Barack Obama, as well as Sarah Jessica Parker, Taylor Swift, and other famous entertainers have been seen sporting Kate Spade handbags.

Most of Kate Spade’s revenue comes from sales in North America, which rose 36.4 percent in the third quarter, due in large part to demand for its high-margin kate spade new york handbags and accessories.

Kate Spade raised its global same-store sales growth forecast from 15-17 percent to 19-21 percent. Global same-store sales rose 15.2 percent in the third quarter, beating analyst expectations of a 10.9 percent rise. The company’s gross margins rose from 61.4 percent to 62.8 percent.

With the holiday season coming up, high promotional costs can cut into profits. Still, Kate Spade is expected to perform well between now and the end of the year.

Kate Spade was created in 1993 and has been developing into a fashion leader. Its collections include handbags, other accessories, clothing, and shoes. The company also recently released a coffee table book.

Kate Spade is now competing with Coach, which has seen sales fall for the last six consecutive quarters. Coach’s mass appeal is waning, but the company is in the midst of a redesigning process.

Another handbag maker, Michael Kors, is also suffering. Its stocks fell 10 percent after the company released a weak sales report. Some believe this decline is due to product saturation.

A third competitor, Tory Burch, also designs stylish handbags and has released a coffee table book. The company is doing well, and analysts will be watching it closely.

Henri Bendel Introduces Premium Handbags

Henri Bendel handbagUpscale New York-based department store Henri Bendel introduced its new six-piece collection of luxury handbags last week. The company launched the new Premium line of bags and updated its classic designs in an effort to increase its sense of quality and exclusivity. The introduction of the new handbags is intended to establish Henri Bendel as a brand, rather than a retailer.

The materials and designs are unique. They utilize hand-cut embossed Italian leather, hand-painted patterns, and fringe detailing.

The Premium collection was designed primarily by Pina Ferlisi, who became creative director for Henri Bendel in July 2012. She had previously worked in accessories at Marc Jacobs, Coach, and Alexander McQueen.

Ferlisi wanted to create a stylish and exclusive collection for customers who value elegance and vintage glamour. Henri Bendel is targeting consumers who are interested in mid-priced luxury bags.

The new handbags are being sold online and in select stores across the country. The company’s social media sites are also offering discounts.

Most department stores have their own branded lines so that they can retain a larger portion of revenue for each purchase and increase their market share in those products. Henri Bendel announced in April that it would no longer sell third party merchandise at its stores. Instead, the company wants to emphasize its in-house line. The changes took effect in September.

Henri Bendel was founded in 1895 in New York’s Greenwich Village. The company began to use brown-and-white-striped shopping bags in 1907. The bags have long been considered iconic. Henri Bendel has opened 28 stores outside New York City since 2007.

Museum Exhibit Traces History of Italian Fashion

Italian Style exhibitThe Minneapolis Institute of Arts has just opened a new exhibit detailing the growth of the Italian fashion industry over the past seven decades.

The exhibit, entitled “Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945” explains how Italy came to be a leader in the fashion world from the end of World War II to the present. In the 1940s there was no real fashion industry, but today Italian fashion houses are known around the world. The show includes 100 ensembles and accessories from a variety of top designers, including Gucci, Prada, Versace, Valentino, Armani, Fendi, Pucci, Missoni, and Dolce & Gabbana.

Hollywood played a major role in the growing popularity of Italian designers. Some American movie producers chose to film in Italy because of the lower costs and good weather. Many films were shot in Italy starting in the1950s. The show includes pieces that were owned by celebrities or worn in famous films. For example, the MIA has a costume worn by Audrey Hepburn in “War and Peace.”

The exhibit also includes photos of celebrities wearing Italian fashions and accessories and carrying luxury handbags. Top Italian fashion designers would sometimes arrange to have paparazzi take pictures of celebrities shopping in Italy as a way to promote their brands to an international audience.

The collection also includes fashions worn by public figures, such as a suit that once belonged to John F. Kennedy.

The traveling exhibit was organized by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. The exhibit’s organizers want to give visitors a concrete way to feel connected to famous people.

“Italian Style” is the first major fashion show at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the first venue for the exhibit in the United States. The show will run through January 4, 2015.

Fashion exhibits have become more popular at art museums in recent years. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted an Alexander McQueen exhibit entitled “Savage Beauty” a few years ago that drew over 600,000 visitors.

Paula Cademartori Grows Handbag Business

Paula CademartoriPaula Cademartori, a former industrial design student from Brazil, decided to pursue a career in fashion at the age of 21. She thought the logical place to go was Milan because the vast majority of luxury handbags and accessories are made in Italy.

Cademartori pursued a master’s degree in accessory design at the Istituto Marangoni. After she graduated, she spent three years designing accessories for Versace before she quit to branch out on her own. She designed a 32-piece collection of shoes for a Vogue Talents contest. After working for a year as a design consultant, Cademartori launched her brand in 2010 with financial help from her parents.

Paula Cademartori handbags are known for their vibrant colored leather with clashing patterns and pi-shaped buckles. Cademartori put her industrial design background to use to create handbags that are ergonomic and functional. Her bags are designed to fit all the essentials while appearing stylish and trendy. She says her handbags are meant to be status symbols.

Cademartori was turned down by many stockists initially. Her brand had a breakthrough in its second season when celebrities such as Miroslava Duma and Anna Dello Russo were photographed sporting her handbags.

Cademartori’s handbags are now sold by over 160 stockists, including Harvey Nichols, MatchesFashion.com, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Almost half of the stockists are based in Italy. She also does business in emerging markets, including the UAE, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil. She hopes to increase her distribution in the United States through her upcoming partnership with Net-A-Porter.

The company is expected to generate $2.8 million in sales by the end of the year. Cademartori has not taken any external investment and owns 100 percent of the brand.

Cademartori has expanded her product offerings this season to include clutches and backpacks and plans to design small leather goods and shoes in upcoming collections. She also plans to open a shop in the future.

Prada Buys French Tannery

Prada handbagLuxury goods maker Prada has just purchased a vintage French tannery in a bid to set itself apart from the competition. The company did not disclose how much it paid for the Tannerie Megisserie Hervy.

According to Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli, the tannery is a place where people who are highly skilled follow a long tradition of making quality goods. The work cannot be outsourced or easily replicated.

Tanneries are typically located along the banks of rivers. Work there is largely done by hand. Tanneries are a major barrier to entry in the luxury fashion industry.

Tanneries are becoming less and less common. In the 1980s, there were 60 tanneries in France, but there are now less than 20, according to France’s National Leather Council.

According to Marino Marin, head of the strategic advisory business at boutique investment bank MLV, the new tannery will give Prada supply-chain certainty. It will enable the fashion house to differentiate itself from other near-luxury houses that are also selling leather goods. Marin thinks the purchase is one of the best things Prada could have done to promote its brand.

The timing will help Prada avoid pressure from rising material costs. It will also give the brand provenance, a valuable piece of history that can be included in a marketing campaign and used as a justification to raise the prices of its handbags and other products. Other handbag makers, such as Coach, do not employ their own tanners. That point could distinguish Prada from the competition in the eyes of consumers.

Prada has been trying to separate itself from the rest of the fashion industry by reducing wholesale distribution and opening more stores. CEO Bertelli dislikes department stores.

Other luxury goods makers have been taking steps to bring their supply chains in-house. Hermes and Kering, which owns Gucci, have recently purchased French tanneries, and in 2013 LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton bought an 80 percent stake in Italian textile maker Loro Piana, which specializes in sourcing extremely rare materials.

Everpurse Handbag Can Charge a Cell Phone

EverpurseEverpurse is a two-year-old fashion-technology company founded by Dan and Liz Salcedo that has designed innovative handbags that can wirelessly charge cell phones. The company has partnered with Samsung to use their advanced lightweight batteries for the bags.

The deal is unusual because Samsung normally only partners with large manufacturers. The company supports the Salcedos’ belief that the purses should be fashionable and that the designs should not be overwhelmed by the technology. The Everpurse handbags can charge a variety of phones, including the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Everpurse began when Dan Salcedo tried to create a handbag that could charge a cell phone for Liz in 2011. They realized that there was a market for the idea. They have obtained patents on some parts of the products and have patents pending on other components. Everpurse has been selling the handbags on Kickstarter.

They launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 with a goal of $100,000, but they wound up raising $238,000. They announced a seed round of close to $1,000,000 this spring with money from family, friends, and SOS Ventures, the largest hardware VC firm that has invested.

When they created early versions of the Everpurse, they did not have access to Samsung’s light, thin batteries or a manufacturer that could create the handbags and incorporate the technology, so they hand-sewed the bags themselves. They found that the handbags appealed to women 30 and up who were on the go, but some thought the bags were too large and wanted a light to indicate when the cell phone was fully charged.

Everpurse is in the midst of its second Kickstarter campaign to raise money for its 2015 collection, which does not have any visible wires or cables and weighs as much as an iPhone. The collection includes leather and vegan purses in a variety of colors. Some are limited editions. Everpurse has also designed a hard-shell clutch with a charging station on the outside and a wallet on the inside intended for younger women.

One version of the technology keeps a phone charged for 48 hours, and other keeps it charged for 96 hours. At night, the bag is laid to rest on a wireless charging mat.

Over a dozen large fashion and accessories companies have become clients and want to use the technology in their own handbags. Some of those companies’ products are in the prototype stage, and others are in the contract stage of figuring out costs and how many to produce. One men’s designer will unveil a limited edition accessories collection during the last two weeks of Everpurse’s Kickstarter campaign. Everpurse has also drawn the attention of some major news outlets, including Good Morning America.

Even though they have deals with fashion designers, the Salcedos want to continue to sell Everpurses on Kickstarter to continue the relationships they have built with fans and get input on how to improve. They are working on “asset tracking” RFID technology to let a user know if essential items, such as a wallet or keys, are in the purse.

Trina Turk Introduces Handbag Collection

trina turkPalm Springs fashion designer Trina Turk added shoes and activewear to her line in the spring, and she is now introducing a handbag collection for the fall. Turk’s designs are known for their playful prints and retro southern California chic.

Turk decided to design handbags because her company had been purchasing them from other sources for their 10 stores. Customers told them that they wanted Trina Turk handbags.

The company had done some work on producing handbags in-house in the past, but they decided to work with Signal Brands on this collection. The company has experience in the handbag field.

Turk has collected around 100 handbags in the 19 years that she has been in business. She and her team went through them to find ideas and details that they could incorporate in their own designs.

Turk’s favorite feature of the new handbags is the tassel. It is included on some bags and can also be bought separately as a clip-on or key fob.

The collection includes a lot of color-blocking and mixing of textures. Her clothing line has lots of prints and patterns, so she wanted to avoid that with the handbags.

The handbag collection consists of three categories. Essentials are everyday handbags, such as the Manhattan tote. That handbag was created in versions with a black and white woven texture, all leather, and a haircalf panel.

The Luxe category includes pieces for evening events, such as clutches made with special novelty materials. One group uses chain mail mesh in matte black, silver, and gold based on designs from the 1970s. The Sunset clutch is crafted with leather and a wood handle.

The Sun category of handbags is less of a factor for the fall. It was designed to be included in the spring collection.

Furla Aims to Boost Affordable Luxury Sales

Furla handbagItalian handbag maker Furla is hoping to more than double its sales in the next five years. The company plans to do that by opening new stores and making inroads into the affordable luxury market. Furla is considering taking on debt or listing its stock in order to raise revenue to open new stores.

Furla’s sales were 228 million euros ($296 million) in 2013. Three quarters of its sales were outside Italy, which had the highest percentage of sales. Europe accounted for 30 percent of Furla’s sales in 2013; the Asia-Pacific region, 14 percent; and the United States, 9 percent. Furla’s Chief Executive Eraldo Poletto wants to increase the company’s sales to 500 million euros within the next five years.

Store openings between 2010 and 2013 helped Furla increase its sales by 45 percent during that period. The company currently has 367 single-brand shops and plans to increase that number by 40 by mid-2015. Most of the new stores will be in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. The company will continue to renovate stores in Russia and expand its presence in Japan and the United States.

Demand for top-end goods has been declining. Furla wants to expand into the growing affordable luxury market throughout the world before other companies do.

Furla has been competing with American brands, such as Michael Kors, Coach, and Tory Burch, as well as France’s Longchamp. The company has also had to compete with top luxury companies for retail space.

Furla is known for its clean, linear, and minimalist handbag designs. The company has expanded its product lines to include shoes and a men’s collection aimed at Asian customers. It is also considering selling watches and beauty products.

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