Tag Archives: Michael Kors

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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Women’s watches have gone from the bold to the beautiful in a return to elegance

Dainty does it. Watchmakers, after a few seasons of issuing men’s wear-inspired clunkers made feminine with the addition of crystals or different colors like pink, are returning to fine jewelry¬†influences and petite proportions designed with the ladies in mind. The turnaround coincides beautifully with ready-to-wear’s resurgence of tailored suits, subdued colors and flirty, yet classic elements like trumpet skirts and polkadots.

Fashion dictates a smaller watch now,” said Patric Zingg, general manager of Hamilton, a watch line owned by The Swatch Group in Weehawken, N.J. Since Hamilton pioneered the concept of creating a stand-alone women’s watch collection in the early 20th century, according to Zingg, the brand’s recent transition to smaller timepieces has been seamless. “Ladylike looks are in our DNA,” he said.

One example Zingg cited is the revival of the Lady Hamilton style from the Thirties. Though designed in the same tonneau shape, the new Lady Hamilton is made of stainless steel instead of its original white gold or platinum. Two bracelet styles and a style with a leather strap in red, black or white retail between $295 and $500 at Macy’s East. A satin strap in black or white makes its debut late spring.

Zingg said one of the biggest selling factors with the new Lady Hamilton is the reasonable price. “This trend is usually represented through fine jewelry,” he explained.

Carried at Federated department stores for $58 or $72, Peugeot watches really deliver the trend for a steal. Peugeot’s biggest hit is a thin rectangular case in yellow gold with a leather strap in black, tan or turquoise. The company will add striped grosgrain ribbon for summer and leather in camel, royal blue or berry, and some possible tweeds and wools, for fall. Peugeot’s national sales manager Sean Sherman said anything white, such as a mother-of-pearl face with a white crocodile-printed leather strap, is also selling. Mother-of-pearl faces appear on gold or silver chain-link bracelets, too.

“The market overdid the bling-bling large trend, so it’s going back to traditional again,” said Sherman, who observed the changeover in the fourth quarter of 2004. Half the collection has more dainty proportions compared with 20 percent last year. “Smaller pieces are checking so much better that we may increase to 60 percent and reissue retro styles,” he said.

But it’s not just established watch houses with decades of meticulously kept archives that are looking back at ladylike, jewelry-influenced retro styles. BCBG, which launched its watch division in February, shows Thirties-inspired cocktail watches in materials like rose gold, stainless steel and mother-of-pearl. Leather straps are hot pink, brown, white or teal, and 40 percent of the collection is now allotted to metal bracelet watches. The looks retail between $95 and $350 at department stores including Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Marshall Field’s.

“People are going back to elegant. Big watches are completely dead for us,” said Dina Crisco, a national sales manager for Long Island City, N.Y.-based Geneva Watch Company, which licenses BCBG.

Crisco attributed the demise of bold watches to oversaturation, especially when retailers splashed the look all over holiday advertisements after it had already been done to death in spring 2004. “Everyone had oversized, glitzy, pink watches, and it backfired,” she said.

Estimating more than 60 percent of Geneva’s watch business is dedicated to small and even miniature styles, Crisco predicted the trend should run through spring 2006.

Kenneth Cole, another Geneva brand that sells for $75 to $125 at Nordstrom, Parisian and Federated department stores, features classic cases and neutral colors. “Cases aren’t in those crazy shapes anymore, and we’re seeing growth in earth-tone straps, yellow gold and textured faces like mother-of-pearl,” said Crisco, whose top seller is a narrow, rectangular shape with Roman numerals and a silver or white face.

Fossil, a Richardson, Tex.-based multibrand watch company that licenses Michael Michael Kors and DKNY, experienced a jump in sales this spring due to the emergence of women’s watches with a jewelry feel, according to Brad Beach, vice president of watch design and product development. “Small and feminine is the biggest trend now,” he said of the vintage-inspired pieces.

Beach said Michael Kors combines watch materials in a manner similar to how they are working with materials in sunglasses, like mixing leather and a metal chain or white plastic and gold. The line also incorporates gold or silver mesh, identification chain bracelets and charms for items that retail between $110 and $150 at Macy’s. “Bigger watches are just sportier by nature, whereas small sizes are more versatile and can go from casual to dressy to true evening much easier,” said Beach.

Basing its collection on the spirit of romance, DKNY shrinks its cases and decorates them with stones and leather straps in girly pinks and lilacs. Fluid silver mesh, which Beach said continues to be a strong platform, sends a feminine message, as well. Watches sell for $85 to $125 at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and DKNY retail stores.

Kim Anderson-Curry, senior vice president of marketing and product for Callanen, a watch designer, manufacturer and distributor in Norwalk, Conn., said small, tailored watches are important to its Guess brand. In January, Guess introduced a smaller, elongated case with crystals on a silver-toned metal bracelet for $85. For Mother’s Day, the company plans to add a rectangular, crystal-enhanced case in stainless steel with a mother-of-pearl face and leather strap in white, pink or black for $85. It also has designed a watch on a multistrand chain with an engraved locket for $85 in silver or $95 in gold.

We see a strong fine jewelry influence,” said Anderson-Curry, who oversees accounts at Macy’s and Watch Station in addition to Guess retail stores.

Since the brand’s broad audience means it can’t walk away entirely from oversized looks, it also is doing “bold watches with feminine twists like five-strand pearl bracelets or cases of gold-toned metal and crystals,” according to Anderson-Curry.

She added, however, that Thirties-inspired watches are what’s to come. “Based on the ready-to-wear trends,” she explained, “I see the small, retro trend having a longer life than 2005.”

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