Luxury retailer Tiffany & Co. is expanding beyond fine jewelry and making a foray into leather handbags and accessories after a 20 year hiatus.
In early 2009, Tiffany bought upscale handbag brand Lambertson Truex and hired its design duo to explore the possibility of developing “a collection of handbag and leather accessories to complement” Tiffany’s product portfolio.
Set to debut in September, the Tiffany Leather Collection, created by design directors Richard Lamberston and John Truex, captures the timeless style of Tiffany & Co. The design consists of clean lines and the color infuses each texture – crocodile, snakeskin, calf, suede – with fresh energy and luster. Each creation is finished with Tiffany’s trademark touches including custom-designed hardware, Tiffany Blue leather interiors, Tiffany Blue enamel and subtle Tiffany & Co. logos.
The collection is for both men and women and ranges from a small Tiffany Reversible Tote for $395 to a Tiffany “Manhattan” satchel in onyx glazed crocodile for $17,500. For men, prices range from $95 for a card case to $1,395 for a crocodile travel wallet. It will be sold in the Company’s 12 largest US stores.
Some industry experts are uncertain how these handbags will compete with well-known brands such as Hermes given that they are similarly priced. Regardless, Tiffany sees upside potential. The collection is expected to garner sales for the highly profitable wallets and small leather accessories. “They’re very high-margin, very profitable products and the handbag collection gives support to that,” according to James Fernandez, Tiffany’s Chief Financial Officer.
Tiffany is expected to “over time convert space once used for china and crystal — which is just not that profitable — for the leather goods. The handbag collection, it’s probably more flagship- store-oriented around the world, where we would have a much broader kind of customer group,” Fernandez said. “But the leather accessories will be probably in every store around the world, and I think they’ll provide a great, great opportunity.” Fernandez said.
This past April, Tiffany opened a store in Shanghai’s Hong Kong Plaza on Huai Hai Road, a venue known for its luxury and designer shopping. The 6,400 square feet bi-level store shares some similar exterior architectural features as Tiffany’s flagship New York store. In May, Tiffany opened a 3,100 square-foot store at the new IFC mall in the rapidly expanding Pudong section of Shanghai that includes luxury hotels and the 101-story World Finance Center, one the tallest buildings in the world. This brings the total stores in Shanghai to four. Tiffany & Co. now operates 12 stores in mainland China and is on track to have approximately 30 stores within five years.
photos courtesy of tiffany & co.