From St Xavier lands Selfridges deal
From St Xavier has just launched its first collection of hand-beaded clutches and handbags in Selfridges in the UK, a significant step for the Sydney-based bag brand, which is preparing for major growth this year both at home and abroad.
“We had just decided to take a breather from the UK and focus on other markets that were working, and about four days later Selfridges contacted us,” Michael Shandler, co-founder and CEO of Kinzu Brands, From St Xavier’s parent company, told Inside Retail.
From St Xavier had previously been stocked in small boutiques and Anthropologie stores in the UK – the womenswear chain still stocks the brand in the US – but Brexit and currency issues had made trading difficult, prompting Shandler’s decision to “take a breather”.
The well-timed offer from Selfridges, regularly recognised as one of the leading department stores in the world, came just as From St Xavier was preparing to accelerate its global presence.
The company plans to enter the Canadian market this year and expand its presence in Australia by partnering with more small specialty retailers, according to Shandler. It currently is stocked in David Jones, Myer and The Iconic.
“Even though we’re based in Australia and designed in Australia, we haven’t focused on the Australian market,” he said.
“Part of our 2020 plan is to hire sales reps in various territories and expand our wholesale business in Australia and New Zealand.”
It also is investing in its e-commerce presence.
“We were slow off the mark there. We’re looking to launch a global site and thinking about how the logistics will work,” Shandler said.
Hand-made in India
Founded in 2013, From St Xavier offers small collections of hand-beaded clutches, pouches and evening bags, which are designed in Australia and made in India. The brand works with factories that outsource the work to individuals who do the beading at home, so every product is unique.
On top of this, From St Xavier often collaborates with its wholesale partners to provide exclusive designs to each retailer.
The best example of this is the brand’s work with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the US, which sees From St Xavier interpret famous artworks as handbag designs each year.
The US is the brand’s biggest market currently. From St Xavier is stocked in Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Shopbop, Anthropologie and many smaller retailers, and Shandler says the focus is firmly on the US market.
But while Shandler says the company is focused on growth, From St Xavier will never be in the business of making millions of bags a year due to the hand-made nature of its production.
“We will command our own little space. If we sell 200,000 bags a year, we’ll be comfortable with that,” he said.
Shandler in December 2018 led a management buyout of Sol Sana Pty Ltd, the company that owned the trademarks for From St Xavier and its sister shoe brand Sol Sana and distributed the products globally.
Together with Majam Investments and Perito Holdings, he bought out Sol Sana’s co-founder and former creative director Sara Caverley. The reason for the split, according to Shandler, was a dispute over the future direction of the company.
Besides Caverley, the entire Sol Sana team moved across to Kinzu Brands.
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