How I Did It! Buxton

1966 “Flower Girl” ad

1966 vintage “Flower Girl” ad

With a century of innovations to its name, Buxton continues to accessorize women’s ever-changing roles.

When you think about it, Buxton® has been right in step with the feminist movement. Founded in 1898, the leathergoods company initially targeted men, but over the decades Buxton starting paying attention to what women—especially working women—needed and wanted. Today, Buxton targets its female consumers with collections of wallets, handbags and personal accessories, while its new B Collective by Buxton line is poised to update Buxton’s rich heritage with modern, fashion pieces.

Entering the fashion market while touting a century of history can be a challenge, however. “It can be tricky to walk that line,” admits president and CEO Eric Lund. “But the timing is right—heritage brands are really strong now and consumers feel comfortable with a brand that has longevity.” In addition, Buxton has the advantage of inspirational archives to devour while designing new lines.
 Blue Buxton walletBuxton’s progression over the years follows women’s rise in social standing and the work force. In earlier times, most women didn’t work, so women’s wallets were a revolutionary concept and women’s handbags didn’t need to hold much more than a lipstick, gloves and some mad money. As things changed, Buxton recognized this void and became not just a leader in women’s wallets, but the first company to design them in fashionable colors. Functional day handbags followed, and Buxton broke out of the brown-and-black handbag rut that faced newly working women. Today, Buxton’s wallets and “Super Wallets” hold everything today’s woman needs, from credit cards to smart phones.

Some Buxton milestones that reflect those respective social and economic times:

  • 1989: The company was founded in western Massachusetts when Dana Buxton and his wife Julia started selling hand-made leather items to tourists and bicyclists passing through the scenic Mohawk Trail.
  • 1920s: Buxton launched its key case called the Key-Tainer® (with key return service), which capitalized on the new surge in people driving cars.
  • 1930s: Buxton introduced the Lady Buxton billfold, designed for women forced to work or seek work during the Great Depression.
  • 1940s: Buxton introduced a Bux-Tan leather process since all fine leathers were  requisitioned by the military. Lady Buxton wallets used smooth lizard skin.
  • 1950s: Buxton coins the phrase “French Purse” for women, capitalizing on the nation’s love of all things French.
  • 1972: A bridge is named after Julia B. Buxton (Dana’s daughter) to honor her advancements with the community.
  • 1980s: Buxton introduced the Cal-Q® Clutch, the industry’s first calculator wallet.
  • 1990s: Buxton introduced the Mini Bag, Pik-Me-Ups and the Wallet-on-a-String, not to mention Card Case, Mini Tri-Fold, Straplet, Coin Purse and more. Buxton also purchased the DOPP line of men’s toilet kits.
  • 2009: Buxton launches the B Collective line, allowing women to “Be who they are.”

Fast forward to Spring 2011, where Buxton is focusing on a variety of themes in wallets. One: Jubilance, a “South America meets Miami” theme with citrus colors and bold blue. Two: Americana Prarie, featuring ditsy florals, perforations, denim, canvas and bows. Three: Romantic, with ruffles, tassels and soft hues like pale gold and champagne. Four: Military, featuring chevron patterns, grommets and studs in military colors.

‘B’ Who You Are

“Today, women play many roles—mother, wife, career-woman—and Buxton is there every step of the way with wallets and handbags to suit all those roles,” says Lund. In today’s busy world, functionality is key, and Buxton is also known for items with myriad inner and outer pockets and other organizational features. Buxton is also know for Pik-Me-Ups—small impulse items such as card cases, coin purses or eyeglass cases.

Berry B Collective two-way handbagBuxton decided it was time to launch a fashion handbag linefor specialty stores and new channels of distribution. B Collective by Buxton uses the tagline, “B Daring, B Unique, B Real, B Beautiful, B Yourself,” and the line offers women various ways to express themselves. B Collective line is mainly synthetic look-of-leather, but features some real leather styles as well as canvas. The line opens at $89 retail and synthetics range up to $120. Leathers peak the collection at $220.

“Buxton is a department store staple, but with B Collective we’re looking to expand into a new tier of retailers, from specialty stores to Internet sites,” says Lund.  Buxton has a huge archive of traditional product that can be reinvented and contemporized with bright colors and new innovations. Technology is an obvious choice, with much opportunity for laptop cases, iPad cases, smart phone cases, and more. Another area Buxton is eyeing is rolling cases. “We’re looking at the next 100 years,” says Lund. For second quarter of 2011, Lund notes Buxton will launch ladies’ totes under the Buxton label. “There’s a big opportunity for stores to get into that whole organizational category. “This is a major transformation of the brand, but everything new we develop will retain the organization and features that Buxton is known for.”

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Lauren Parker, Accessories Magazine

Lauren Parker, Editor-in-Chief, Accessories Magazine
As Editor-in-Chief of Accessories Magazine for the past 12 years, Lauren Parker has covered accessories both from a retail business perspective and a fashion point of view. In previous full-time magazine jobs and freelance gigs, she’s written about practically every angle of fashion lifestyle living, including women's fashion accessories, fine jewelry, Caribbean travel, private jets, Hampton’s real estate, the New York art scene, the bridal industry, men’s lifestyle and being a mom. She loves meeting designers and seeing how their latest offerings capture the current zeitgeist and fit into the entire cultural and social picture.