Tag Archives: Guess

Fashion’s big names are getting their hands on watch lines, hoping to broaden their brand cachet on the main floor

When it comes to determining the time these days, there are a number of high tech options at any woman’s disposal, from her cell phone to her iPod, BlackBerry or Palm Pilot. Nevertheless, watches continue to go beyond their functionality to bedazzle consumers, and now a whole new group of designer brands is taking note.

In the past year alone, more than a half-dozen brands have inked watch deals, with high-wattage names like Michael Kors, Jennifer Lopez, Perry Ellis and, most recently, Marc Jacobs leading the charge and giving main-floor regulars such as Anne Klein, Kenneth Cole, Guess and Emporio Armani some new competition.

Jacobs and Kors, along with Bollman Hat Co., makers of Kangol hats, have sealed licensing deals with Fossil. Lopez’s Sweetface Fashions has teamed up with E. Gluck for JLo watches. SII Marketing International, a division of Seiko Instruments, is hoping its line for Perry Ellis will build on renewed interest in the brand now that hot designer Patrick Robinson is in charge of the creative direction. Also, Givenchy is getting refreshed through a new distribution deal with the SWI Group.

But can designer clout turn into big sales when main-floor watch real estate is already at maximum capacity? A hot name with an established commercial audience in other product arenas, such as apparel, doesn’t necessarily guarantee the public’s appetite for a watch emblazoned with the same name.

“Everyone wants to go where there have been significant successes,” said Charles Kriete, president of the Geneva Watch Company, maker of several highly successful licensed watch brands, including Kenneth Cole and Tommy Bahama. “Everyone envisions being the next Gucci, but it’s rarely that easy.”

Kriete added that there needs to be a clear message. “You need to be able to practically picture what the watch will look like even before it’s made.”

For newcomers to the watch business, this is an ambition they all hope to achieve.

MARC JACOBS

Robert Duffy, president of Marc Jacobs, acknowledged that the development of Jacobs’ watchesmay be an evolving process.

I recognize the challenge from when we first started working on watches [for Louis Vuitton],” he said (Jacobs also designs the Louis Vuitton collection). “The details are key: A strap or detail on the face becomes a signature.”

He added, however, “I know one thing: Every time we’ve gone through this process, you learn as you go.”

Duffy couldn’t be too specific about the details of either the Marc Jacobs Collection or the Marc by Marc Jacobs watch lines, both of which are slated to bow in May of next year, but he did say their own love for watches was part of the reason why he and Jacobs decided to proceed with the license.

“We experimented with watches at Louis Vuitton, and they have become very interesting to Marc and I,” said Duffy. “Neither of us started wearing a watch until we were 30, but in the last 10 years I’ve started collecting them. We all wear watches; it’s an emotional decision.”

Duffy said both brands will include women’s and men’s watches and that they will expand upon the aesthetic of both the collection line and the diffusion line.

“Collection is really known for understated fashion. It’s about luxury, but not with a bang — more like a whisper,” Duffy said.

For Marc by Marc Jacobs, he said, “We’ll have a blast; we can go crazy with whatever colors or prints we do each season.”

Duffy said the watches will go into Jacobs’ own stores, then into key Jacobs retailers like Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.

JLO

Andy Hilfiger, president of Sweetface Fashions, said he’s not worried about main-floor competition. He compared the ebb and flow of brands in the watch world to the rotation at Top 40 radio stations. “Just like with the radio, a new song comes on, another one goes off.”

Hilfiger said adding watches to JLo’s product categories was in response to the popularity of the watch, as well as an effort to expand upon the line’s lifestyle statement.

“Part of it is about building the whole lifestyle, but in both the music and fashion worlds, watches are a big accessory,” Hilfiger said. “Everyone wears cool watches. Jennifer is definitely a big watch wearer, and the designs reflect Jennifer’s lifestyle.”

The watches launched at better department and specialty stores this month for holiday, and the looks draw from Lopez’s glittering stage style, with many bright colors and crystal accents. The line will range from $70 to $195 at retail.

MICHAEL MICHAEL KORS

Michael Michael Kors watches, which hit major department stores this month, also build on Michael Kors’ lifestyle, accentuating what many have called his “carpool couture” sensibility.

“Michael Kors brings a sense of realistic fashion,” said Alex Cushing, brand manager for Michael Michael Kors at Fossil. “It’s achievable and understandable, yet sexy and still fashionable — and also has a ton of quality and value.”

Cushing said the line focuses on classic round and tank shapes, some with chunky buckle closures. Other features include day/date calendars, full working chronographs and a signature second hand in orange, a favorite Kors color. Retail prices range from $80 to $150.

PERRY ELLIS

Stuart Cameron, director of marketing and design at SII Marketing International, said this will be the second time that Perry Ellis is offering watches bearing the company’s name, after a previous license with Genender International ended about four years ago. This time around, however, pricing is more competitive, with the watches retailing from $75 to $110.

The design will also better match the classic feminine positioning of the apparel collection, which has received positive reviews in recent seasons, although Cameron was quick to point out that the watch collection isn’t translated directly from the apparel, but rather “tells the overall story.”

We asked ourselves what it is about a woman that is appealing; we looked at curves and lines,” Cameron explained. “The feeling is sort of Audrey Hepburn for today.”

Cameron described the Perry Ellis watch line as being centered around classic styling, with a lot of attention to detail.

“We worked closely with the team at Perry Ellis and came up with exclusive details,” he said. “We tooled everything from scratch. The crowns are unique, the hands have nice details, and the colors and dial treatments have a sheen that is very subtle.”

The 22-style women’s line, along with the men’s line, debuted at wholesale during the August accessories market, and is expected to turn up in main-floor departments for spring.

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Watch world: watches are making timely advances

After a couple of relatively dull seasons, the watch arena is perking up.

With new product offerings in the fashion category and more entries in the burgeoning bridge segment, watches should be a strong classification from fall through the crucial fourth quarter.

Besides obvious additions like an injection of color and more high tech functions, there is a notable turn toward seemingly disparate themes like retro, modern or feminine, fine jewelry looks. While this sudden broad array of product may initially overwhelm retailers, in the end, buyers have a unique opportunity now to reassess assortments and add some punch to their presentations.

Bridge is among the most important areas to focus on. There, vendors are banking on a scenario similar to what took place several years ago in jewelry: Sterling silver took off in stores and has now earned a permanent place in jewelry departments. With consumers upgrading the quality of their accessories purchases in general, fashion vendors are starting to place more focus on improved movements and original details and styling, rather than the stock cases, bezels and bracelets that were previously seen ad nauseum across many brands. The result is an influx of names with a fashion following, at a price point in an area known more for stodgy brands with little fashion impact.

“In our [Guess] Collection line, we’re filling a void for watches priced in the $115 to $300 range, that also offer a look not seen in fashion watches,” said Cindy Livingston, president of Callanen International, who pointed out the dearth, until recently, of any quality, branded watches between the fashion and fine areas.

“The reaction to unique details has resulted in such tremendous sell-throughs that we’re moving into an even wider assortment for the third quarter and beyond,” she said. “We will have bridge presentations in about 250 doors by the end of this year.”

At Ecclissi, the strategy is to maintain what is considered to be a leadership position in the bridge area, according to president Robert Elizondo, who recently moved most of his firm’s operations here from its longtime base in El Paso, Tex.

“There’s no question that we’re increasing our product development efforts,” said Elizondo. “We needed access to more talent and suppliers to maintain our status as one of the first with sterling silver and the broadest assortment. Stores need to be able to choose from a large number of sku’s, which we provide. Now, we’re trying to address a wider range of price points and give many buyers an opportunity [to carry the brand].”

Ecclissi’s wholesale price range has been broadened to $50-$200 from $100-$170. Elizondo said the new products should give retailers gains of “at least 10 percent.”

“We’re seeing gains of over 30 percent through a mix of same-store sales and an expanded number of doors,” he said.

Jewelry designer Alejandro Toussier is launching his first collection of watches this month, hoping to build on recognition garnered from his bridge jewelry line and satisfy a longtime passion.

“I’ve collected vintage watches for years,” said Toussier. “And when my [jewelry] customers started asking for watches, it gave me the push I needed to give them a try.

“But I wanted to offer strong design and quality for half the price, making pieces that were comparable to those retailing in the $800 to $2,000 range.”

Toussier’s debut collection features about 155 styles, some with a distinctively retro feeling, while others are clean and contemporary. All have Swiss movements and cases with Italian or French bracelets and straps. They retail from $350 to $850.

Vendors sounded a note of caution about the potential success of bridge watch departments, however. They stressed that stores must be committed to merchandising, display and especially professional sales staffing capable of selling better watches.

The concern is so great that some firms — like Alfex of Switzerland — are limiting their distribution while waiting to see how retailers handle bridge before getting too involved.

Alfex currently only sells to Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue because they are among the few retailers that have demonstrated the ability to sell bridge watches, according to Dan Bogue, director of sales and marketing at Alfex.

Meanwhile, the fashion segment is getting behind novel bracelet treatments, smaller scale and more feminine looks and new takes on sport watches.

“There are a lot of sleek, contemporary influences coming out of Japan and Asia now, and silver looks are still a definite trend,” said Callanen’s Livingston, referring to straps that are half bracelet, half bangle and often paired with rose or mink-colored faces.

Besides Callanen’s Guess brand, these looks are available from numerous other resources and will be seen increasingly as the year goes on.

At Anne Klein II, vice president Tammy Bernstein said the firm sees “a big trend for a bit more dressed-up lifestyle,” presenting a big opportunity for the brands’ classic ladylike looks. In fact, the company will launch Anne Klein II Classics — a series of signature styles featuring small-scale, fine jewelry-looking watches — at the end of May.

Bernstein said while sporty looks remain strong for the firm, “chunky sport has peaked for us.”

“Women now want simpler, more refined details in cleaner looks,” she added.

CK Calvin Klein is building on the minimal line launched last November with evolutions of its initial styles, “very graphic, active and sleek pieces,” that aptly represent Klein’s minimalist view, according to a spokesman.

The new pieces feature rubber straps where the holes are hidden, except for the one punctured by the wearer for the correct tightness. The watches are unisex, and the rubber is similar to the material used on the stopper of the designer’s CK Be fragrance, sending a strong, consistent message to consumers about the CK brand.

Also focused on maintaining brand image with the right product is Genender, which has laid out distinct characterizations for its Perry Ellis, Levi’s and Dr. Martens lines.

“Many fashion watches have strayed from their brand soul in an effort to maximize distribution,” said Ken Genender, president and chief executive officer.

The Perry Ellis line has an almost Fifties sensibility, with classical styling; Levi’s and its Silver Tab line are distinctly American and individualistic, with a Sixties flair, and Dr. Martens is the edgier, metal-trimmed street line.

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The Guess watch line is reaping benefits from its new link with Timex

Callanen Group Inc, which produces Guess brand wristwatches, is becoming a force in the fashion watch world. The Guess line is one of the three most popular watch brands in US department stores and contributes 85% to Callanen’s sales volume. Wholesale volume is expected to be over $70 million in 1992, an increase of 33%. Timex Corp acquired Callanen, contributing technical expertise to improve watch quality and production capacity, although Callanen operates as a separate unit. Timex is also helping to fulfill Callanen’s desire to expand the scale of its overseas distribution.

The Guess brand name is getting as well known on the wrist as it is on then rear.

The licensed fashion watch line, produced by Callanen Group Inc., has turned into a powerhouse, generating sales upwards of $60 million wholesale this year.

Eight years ago Mickey Callanen, who was an executive at Monet Jewelers, decided to start a watch firm and launched the Guess collection. Since then, Guess has emerged as one of the three leading watch brands in department stores (the other two being Swatch and Fossil.)

The success of Guess watches has captured the attention of many, including Timex Enterprises. Timex purchased Callanen Group, Inc., the firm holding the license for Guess watches, last October.

Callanen, who continues as president of Callanen Group, said the firm’s volume will be over $70 million wholesale in 1992, a 33 percent volume gain. He said 85 percent of the volume is done with Guess and 15 percent with the two-year-old licensed Monet watch line.

While Callanen continues to operate independently from Timex, it’s already gaining benefits from Timex’s experience.

It was propitious timing when Timex expressed interest in Callanen Group, because, Callanen said, he was exploring the international market for distribution.

“It’s very hard to find good distributors overseas,” said Callanen, “and with Timex’s strong relationships around the world, I felt they could do nothing but help us.”

While he would not disclose the terms of the acquisition agreement, he said: “Timex paid a lot of money.” In the agreement, Callanen has a contract that keeps him in charge of the company for eight more years. His partner, Bud Polley, remains vice president, sales.

In addition to helping Callanen establish relationships with distributors overseas, Timex is improving the quality of Callanen’s watches. Callanen said when his new manufacturing facility opened in Hong Kong, Timex sent its engineers over to improve quality, and they brought the production capacity up 38 percent.

“Other than that, though, it’s like Timex is not around,” said Callanen.

Michael Jacobi, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Timex, said his firm was not looking to manage another company, but to acquire a firm with a strong existing management team.

“We are a lean corporate organization that can’t absorb companies within our management structure,” he said. “We kept Callanen’s management and company culture the same.”

Jacobi said his firm has been considering acquiring several watch firms because it wanted to strengthen its distribution in department stores. Including the Callanen brands, Timex has 11 watch brands.

Now that Callanen has Timex’s connections, the firm is aggressively going after international distribution.

“Huge growth will come from overseas business,” said Callanen. “It could be 35 percent of our business in one to two years.”

Callanen started its international distribution nearly two years ago in Australia through a Sydney-based distributor. Callanen said the firm will sell 100,000 units of Guess watches there in 1992.

A year ago, he started selling Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Korea, and last month shipped to Canada, England, Portugal, France and Germany.

“I don’t see any stores overseas that devote the kind of space to fashion watches that U.S. retailers do, with the exception of Galleries Lafayette,” said Callanen. “There’s a big business out there.”

Paul Marciano, senior vice president of Guess Inc. said Callanen does more volume with Guess label than any of his other licensees, which include fragrance, shoes and legwear among others.

“It’s Mickey’s devotion, personality and energy that has helped make this line a success,” said Marciano.

Callanen attributed a lot of the success of Guess watches to the fact that new merchandise is continually introduced. But he also said he is just in a good business.

“The consumer sees fashion watches as wonderful value for their money,” said Callanen. “In addition to being fashionable, watches are a commodity.”

Joanne Hart, fashion director for Macy’s East, said, “Guess has been phenomenal for us. The name is very recognizable and the styling is great.” She noted the chronograph, scuba and animal-print strap watches are among the top sellers.

Callanen is based in Norwalk, Conn., and all production is done in Hong Kong, where the company employes 17 designers.

The Monet watch line has been slower getting off the ground, Callanen noted, because it’s a narrower focus featuring mostly chain looks.

He said the biggest direction in watches is sport.

“Sport watches are moving the average unit sale up in the fashion watch department,” he said, noting the average Guess watch had sold for $52 retail last year and now it’s $68,

Callanen said he would consider adding more watch brands, “if they made sense with our mix and did not conflict with existing lines.”

He is as enthusiastic about the business as ever and has no plans to leave the company that he started out of his garage. “I am having too much fun to leave. I can’t imagine doing anything else but this.”

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