Not long ago, a friend who works for a major fashion brand asked me, out of the blue, which handbags designers I thought sold the best at department stores. For some reason, it was a question I had never quite thought about in those terms before; so many of the most sought-after accessories labels don’t retail through third parties that it’s hard to gauge where the rest of the pack ranks without solid facts and figures in front of me. Thinking about handbags while disregarding Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermes (all of whom control their own retail outlets, even within department stores) seemed entirely foreign.
My best guesses at the time were Celine and Proenza Schouler. Those are the brands who get the most slavish response from fashion people, and I know from personal experience how hard it can be to put your hands on the Celine bag of your choice. As it turns out, I was right – Women’s Wear Daily reports that Celine and Proenza are still a huge highlight in an accessories market that has grown by double digits in the last year. Who else is popular? Some of the names might surprise you. (more…)