RETAILER RAP: KATHRYN FAY, TOOTSIES

In What's New, Industry News by Lauren Parker

Tootsies Houston Store

Tootsies Houston Store

Kathryn Fay, Tootsies

Kathryn Fay, Tootsies

The August shows are right around the corner, so leading up to AccessoriesTheShow and AccessorieCircuit, Accessories Magazine will be chatting with retailers about business and fashion/accessories opportunities.

Tootsies is an upscale fashion/accessories store that’s been in business for four decades and currently has three locations in Dallas, Houston and Atlanta. With its 35,000-square foot River Oaks location in Houston with floor-to-ceiling windows to its University Park Dallas store in the second most expensive zip code in the country, Tootsies is committed to elegance. Accessories chatted with Kathryn Fay, Consultant/Contemporary Accessories Buyer, who shared with us some of her accessory insights.

Who is the Tootsies customer?

We have a very loyal client base in our stores. It’s a business that spans three generations. We have girls and their moms and grandmothers all shopping here.

What’s hot now in handbags?

We added Mansur Gavriel handbags last year and they are huge sellers for us! Our biggest challenge is getting more in stock as they really limit the number of units per delivery. Their bucket bag, at $595, is a good pricepoint compared to other advance contemporary handbags. Their bags have no hardware, and if you can call the contrast color on the interior lining an embellishment, then they’re doing embellishment!

What else?

Clutches are really big for us—Serpui, basket-weave styles from Kayu, slip-through straps from Perrin Paris. We’ve been pre-selling Le Petite Joueurs handbags and they’re doing great. Trends really run the gamut now in handbags because women need a practical work bag and a novelty one for night. Overall, we start at $125 for a small crossbody pouch and go all the way up to $1900 for a Khirma Eliazov exotic skin bag–we sell her $995 Herzog clutch like hotcakes! My sweet spot is $325 to $995.

Tootsies Dallas store

Tootsies Dallas store

Do you find women are more creative now with their accessories?

Definitely! Our customers trust us and they really open their minds to new things when they come into Tootsies.

How are you addressing the interchangeable/DIY trend in accessories?

We blew out with the stick-on patches from Rebecca Minkoff. And we also sold the Rebecca Minkoff clip-on guitar straps for bags. We have more coming for fall.

What’s selling in fashion accessories?

We used to sell a lot of print scarves but now we’re selling more basic with a twist, like Rag & Bone. We’re doing novelty scarves in the long and skinny and just brought in Rockins from the UK. In belts, we’re still selling stretch waist belts in neutral colors. We also do a really good business with hats all year, such as the straw cowboy hats for the beach in solids. We do well with embellished Sensi Studio hats from Greg Mills showroom–one had writing that said Aloha and another had splatter paint that just sold out immediately. But now we’re just selling tons of basics. In jewelry, we run the whole gamut from $200 costume jewelry items up to fine jewelry.

As August Market week and the trade shows get closer, how are you approaching the holiday market season?

We look at holiday in two ways: gifting and holiday parties. Women want holiday oriented bags to dress up and wear out. And our gifts run from a $125 cross-body cell phone pouch to a $2,400 Sophia cashmere shawl with fur trim in electric blue. Our customer is open to color. Jewel tones are always strong for us for holiday, in satin or velvet, as is hot pink. We’re showing gold, silver, pewter, red and hot pink for holiday.

In-store events seem to be a major element at Tootsies as a way to boost consumer engagement and introduce them to new brands.

They are and we love our events! Our PA’s [personal appearances] do really well, and across all categories, we do one trunk show a week. Our in-store events really help us strengthen relationships with existing clients as well as new ones, plus they give us more press opportunities. When the designers come and they tell their story and how it relates to their logo or how their designs represent them, the sales associates really light up. And the customers too!

Do you also do events with designers you don’t carry?

We do as a great way to test them. We love supporting designers. Our events are constantly evolving and we’re always looking at new ways to grow.

Do you carry any fun Christmas Kitsch?

We don’t but are definitely looking into it. Could be a fun idea for an in-store event!

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