A to Z: AHQ Accessory Headquarters

Founder Abe Chehebar

Founder Abe Chehebar

AHQ Accessory Headquarters was founded by 30 year industry veteran, Abe Chehebar. AHQ is focused primarily on private label and branded fashion handbags. The company designs, sources, and distributes handbag brands such as Hayden-Harnett, Christian Lacroix, Catherine Malandrino, and an exciting new line of packable printed nylon bags under the brand Go!Sac.

Abe Chehebar founded Accessory Network Group in 1984 and grew the company to one of the industry’s most innovative and fastest growing companies in the market. The company was a multi-category powerhouse and was a key supplier to big box chains as well as major department stores throughout the world.

In 2011, Accessory Network Group sold its assets to Mystic Apparel, a division of Weisner Products. AHQ was then formed with a focus on the Handbag category, quickly becoming known for iconic handbag brands. It has developed successful programs with major department stores in both store-owned brands (Private Label) as well as our company-owned brands.

Accessories caught up with Abe Chehebar to talk about AHQ past and future:

Hayden Harnett quilted clutch

Hayden Harnett quilted clutch

What is a typical day like for you? I spend most of the day working within the creative process of design and development. While I manage many other areas of this business, this is the area that I gravitate towards and I enjoy the most. I also very much enjoy working with our team and share exciting opportunities that are possible within our industry. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the handbag industry is full of paradigms, and things are being done simply because that is always how it was done. We have always been creative in bringing things to the next level, and we work closely with our retail partners in developing new formats and always trying new things.

What is your favorite part of this industry? The people. The handbag industry has some great merchants and I very much enjoy working with them to help them build their handbag business.

Christian Lacroix mens tote

Christian Lacroix mens tote

What are the newest and exciting changes in the marketplace lately? First, we are seeing more and more retailers alter their presentations on their floor by product category versus by brand. This change enables the customer to shop an area of the department based on what she is looking for versus having to go through each brand presentation. For example, if a customer is looking for a leather satchel, all the leather satchels are in one area of the store…etc. Retailers that have tried this format have seen a dramatic increase in their handbag sales. Second, is speed-to-market. Retailers expect to have what is trending within the same season. A season later does not cut it anymore.

What have been some of the biggest challenges in the market lately? I think the biggest challenge facing our industry today is sameness within assortments from retailer to retailer. The retailers that are stepping out and trying new things are the ones that are gaining market share today and are attracting new consumer segments by offering something that they cannot get everywhere. Cracking this code is key to growing market share in handbags.

Go!Sac snake tote

Go!Sac snake tote

In terms of styling, what are you focusing on for the Fall/Holiday season? Colorblocking, saffiano, clutches and crossbody shapes are all very strong for us. Backpacks and nylon travel items are a fast-growing category. Color and metallics are a huge driver of sales for Fall/Holiday.

How do you use social media and how has it helped your brand? We have a talented team that focuses on communicating with consumers to promote the sell-throughs of our brands and tell the brand’s story across all social media platforms. We want to engage our customers and fans of the brands. We monitor this very closely to insure that the efforts being implemented support the sellthroughs of our products at retail on a quantitative level.

Does your company have any important milestones coming up? We are in the process of launching an exciting campaign for Hayden-Harnett to further introduce this iconic NYC handbag brand to a wider audience. This is a niche brand that is unique in the market place, and has performed exceptionally well for us.

Anything else? AHQ understands that retailers are looking for solutions beyond great product. We work closely with our retail partners to evaluate the entire supply chain and see where we can do things better, faster,  in an efficient manner. When dealing with nationally recognized brands,  there is a heightened quality standard. Our goal as a company is to exceed expectations in everything we do.

June 2014 Accessories A to Z coverAHQ Accessory Headquarters was featured in Accessories magazine’s June issue: A look a who and what is hot now–in product, brands, stores, pop culture, business, social media, e-commerce, apps, runway trends, technology, startups, museum exhibits and much, much more!

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Lauren Parker

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 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.