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Beth Goldstein from Circana on Handbag Designer 101 Podcast on Every Tuesday

Updated: Feb 6



Emily Blumenthal

Host

00:00

Hi and welcome to the Handbag Designer 101 podcast with your host, Emily Blumenthal, handbag Designer Expert and Handbag Fairy Godmother, where we cover everything about handbags, from making, marketing, designing and talking to handbag designers and industry experts about what it takes to make a successful handbag. Welcome Beth Goldstein to the Handbag Designer 101 podcast. Beth is the executive director and industry analyst of footwear and accessories at Circana. Welcome, beth, thank you very much. Excited to be here, I mean your title precedes you. So let's be honest, it's it's hardy and it's worth it. It's absolutely worth it. So what is Circana? What is it? What makes it so interesting and why is it so important? So great question. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

00:53

Thank you. Circana as a company is about six months old. Actually, you may have heard, obviously, we worked together for a long time and I've been at NPD for a very long time and NPD and IRI merged to form Circana. So NPD was a longstanding market insights firm in the categories of general merchandise so fashion categories, tech, toys, beauty categories like that Whereas IRI was a research company and one of the most well-known research companies and insights companies in the food and grocery and consumer packaged goods industry, right. So we merged and rebranded as Circana and now we've got the complete view of almost $3 trillion in consumer spending across all of those industries. And, of course, now we know people are paying more for their food, they're paying more for their gas, they're spending more for just typical household items. So it really helps to have that broader knowledge of what the consumer is spending on to really help us provide context and understand why the trends might be as they are in our industries. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

02:12

You should say that, and I'm so excited I could talk about this genuinely all day, about people paying more for things, so that is a ripple effect going all the way. I mean, during the pandemic, that was because there were shipping troubles, shipping problems and boats getting blocked, and then, as a result of the boats being blocked, deliveries were delayed and therefore, by the time the merchandise showed up, there was a glut of what was last season's merchandise and therefore it created this backlog of OK, now we have last season, now we have to put that season on discount, or exactly our promotion, and now we have the new stuff coming, and then the cycle continued. What other factors do you think have led to things being more expensive? Like, did cows get more expensive one day, you know? Like, do they now have iPads and therefore leather is more expensive? Like, what's your take on the why? Yeah, I mean. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

03:10

I think it's a lot of what you mentioned. It's just been generally you know the ripple effects of cost increasing in every aspect of the chain, the supply chain, across all categories, and it has gotten better and we definitely see that. You know you read about this too about inflation. Rates have come down, but to the consumer you know they're still increasing. So the rate of growth has slowed but prices are still increasing across a number of industries and categories. So to that consumer they still are seeing their prices going up. Now maybe it's they didn't go up as much as they went up last year, but it's still up and you know they're still feeling it. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

03:49

I mean, one of the key points are the articles that have come out regarding the increase of a Chanel bag. Oh yeah. So what do you think about that? And you know the Chanel customer, I mean it's inelastic. They will continue to shop that product regardless of if it goes up 10%, 20%, 60%. It's insane. There's actually that clip which people have been showing from Sex in the City where Samantha was going to get the Hermes bag and when the person said it would be $4,000 and she said for a bag. Now it's like, oh, put a zero in front of that one right there. You know, people don't even bat an eye. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

04:32

Yeah, yeah. So it's really fascinating because you have this dichotomy of what's happening. I mean people you're struggling with just everyday costs of goods going up and then you've got the luxury end and as a whole we have seen the luxury side of things slow down. But it's twofold. It's really that extreme high end. So the Chanel's and Hermes and the brands that play in that quiet luxury category that's been talked about so much this year the Loewe, the Rowe those are definitely holding their own and that customer isn't feeling the pinch as much. But then you look at I mean it's just funny to say but the lower end of the designer spectrum and the brands that tend to be more accessible or more aspirational, that the consumer will stretch themselves to purchase. That's where we've seen the softness, because that consumer right now is the one that can't necessarily stretch, whereas the consumer that's already buying the Chanel etc. Is doing okay. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

05:37

What do you think and we'll get into where things are with handbags and your thoughts and professional opinions on. Well, it's not even an opinion, it's extrapolated from facts. Let me clarify that. What do you think in terms of how products obviously specifically handbags are sold at retail? Because you have the department stores like a Sacks, like a EVE, like a Bergdorf's, and I walk those stores. They carry sometimes the same merchandise that's sold at a Nordstrom, that's sold at a Bloomingdale's. How do you think this discerning customer is able to? Because, again, for designers who aspire to be in those stores and designers that are currently, how are they able to define those price points? And, from a research perspective, how do you think that impacts overall sales? 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

06:29

Yeah, I mean certainly there is some differentiation between those retailers based on the products that they carry, but in some ways they're becoming a little bit more homogeneous as well with you can find some of the same thing. 

06:43

So retailers really are focused on trying to differentiate themselves from their competitors and that's where a lot of these newer emerging brands, like you're working with and you're always talking about, can really help. And the retailers that are willing to take that chance and do something new and merchandise in a new way are the ones that are going to stand out. But it's not always just about price point, right? I mean, if you look at a Nordstrom, they have in all of their departments really they carry, they'll have the designer, but then they'll go down into the contemporary and even a little bit more into the bridge and the better of using those official classification terms. But it's more about the brand, the aesthetic or the personality, that, what that brand means or says and how it aligns with their consumer, from maybe the more mainstream to the designer. So price point's one aspect of it, but I think some retailers are starting to shake that up a bit. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

07:39

You know, I had a major contemporary department store speak to me and ask me do I have any designers that I can recommend to them". And this is, you know, at a quote, unquote affordable price point. And I said what do you mean? And they said we are so desperate for newness that we are going on to other department stores' websites to see if we can pull some talent from there, which wasn't surprising, but it was kind of, you know, I was surprised to hear him ask me because the designers with whom I work I don't think have the capacity at that point to sell amazes or somebody like that, Just because the cost of doing business, of getting in those stores, is just so high. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

08:26

Right, yeah, and it's also hard to you know, as the business has slowed, where some of the major brands that were such big drivers of sales 10, 12 years ago, you know it's hard to find. Even you know those that are taking a chance on some of these more emerging designers. It's just it's hard to replace that volume. So you know the business is softer, then the retailers become a little bit more conservative and then it's just kind of a vicious cycle. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

08:57

So, yeah, I mean what happened with Michael Kors. I think it was like 2016, where they flooded the market. It really killed I don't want to say killed the business for everyone, but it certainly made it a lot more complicated for anybody who was trying to break in. Do you still see that impact in people trying to recover? Because there's still a lot of Michael Kors out there cold, hard facts? 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

09:20

Yes, I mean you know, the popularity of the brand and the you know skyrocketing sales, it just it did. It had an overall halo on the entire industry. It kind of made the handbag category exciting, but then you know, it just got too oversaturated, like you mentioned, and you know has struggled to come back from that ever since. And other brands there are other brands that were in that situation as well. Maybe that's the same scale and everybody has sort of tried to reinvent. 

09:51

But some of that has meant pulling back from the major department store players and focusing on direct consumer and not all of that. I mean that can be a good strategy but it doesn't mean that all of that volume is then going to transfer. So you know it's very tough and it's got to really always be evolving and really the number one focus needs to be the long-term health of the brand. And that's hard, especially when you are a publicly owned company and you need to, you know, achieve the short-term results right. But you know, in the long run it's those that really focus more on the brand protection and kind of keeping that supply and demand relationship in check that come out ahead. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

10:32

So I want to talk a little bit about Serkana going, because they were already diving in. Now, serkana is what you do, and I would love to talk a little bit about how you work with retail, how you pull your data, what that data is used for and what can we do with this incredible information that you're going to share. I mean, granted, you can only share with us so much, right, but what you're sharing is it's really helpful as a designer and as a brand I think from all levels because what you're able to pull is really its nuggets of gold in terms of how to build out your business and to hit those four P's price, product promotion and placement and really get a deeper understanding of what the customer is, what the thresholds are, what the sweet spots are for price point, where the opportunities lie in terms of silhouettes. I think all that information is really, really interesting. So if you could speak to a little bit about what all this is about, I think we'd all be enlightened. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

11:35

Yeah, so we have different data sources and that will vary by industry and by a geography, but, for example, for the fashion and accessories categories, we've got a few main sources. So one is a retail tracking service and that is we've got partnerships with retailers where they are sending us their data, mostly on a weekly basis, and we are coding that up and compiling it into data sets where we can see brand, category, item level, attribute, selling. And then we work with clients, both on the retail side and on the manufacturing side, to help them interpret that data and understand what it means in their business. Now we do that differently with retailers and manufacturers. So the retailers in exchange for partnering with us and sharing their data, they get certain reporting back? 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

12:30

Do they ever color their information for you? Like voting, puffing up certain things just to make them look better, Just out of curiosity? No, no. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

12:40

No, it's data feeds that come in from their point of sale systems. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

12:44

So it's the same Monday numbers that they get, you get. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

12:46

Exactly. Exactly. Now we may compile it up differently and we do not ever share with other retailers. So the retailers will get reports back on their business comparative to other retailers as a whole grouping. So we're never exposing anyone retailer's data to anyone but that retailer and to manufacturers. They never see one retailer's data either unless there is a special partnership that has been established and the retailer has given permission. So retailer confidentiality is very important. We wouldn't have our business without that. So the manufacturers can purchase the data and we work with them to help them, and they can do that in a number of different ways. They've got bigger insights groups and want to mine through data. They can buy databases which we help them use, or they can buy reporting or certain ad hoc things. 

13:32

We have other data sources as well also that are more consumer based. So in some industries we have consumer surveys that we do that are on a regular basis, asking consumers what they're buying and where and why and what was the price and what was the category, and we compile that up to a total market view. We in accessories, our consumer panel is actually receipt based. So this is something new that we actually just launched this year for accessories, that we get our consumer data through actual receipts that are submitted from our consumer panel. It's a large wow, and so it's consumer in data, in that it comes from a subset of consumers and we use that to project up to the total market. But it's very accurate information. So, instead of asking someone to remember and report on everything that they bought, we actually have the information from the receipt. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

14:24

Is there anything D to C, direct to consumer, that you're able to pull so direct to? 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

14:28

consumer, we would get those receipts. So that's only from the manufacturer. We don't get it from the manufacturer be from that consumer. That's on our panel. So if I bought a bag at a coach store or coachcom and I'm submitting my receipts, we would see that. So in that more consumer based service we have the direct to consumer in the retail tracking piece. We're mostly covering the wholesale space. We are working, though, to start to include direct consumer, and that involves working with the manufacturers to kind of get them on board. So that's an ongoing project but that's important because that's obviously becoming a larger piece of the business. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

15:05

So, in terms of whatever findings you are able to share with us, that would be really exciting. Like who the top players still are. What are the some of the new people that you see coming? What other silhouettes do you think that are gaining momentum, which are on their way out? I always go back to the clutch, which I have a love hate relationship with. You know. I know cross body is still very strong. The tote will never go away, like tried and true silhouettes that people should constantly, always have part of their assortment. Things like that. Whatever you can share, that would be great. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

15:42

Yeah, sure, so we do see. You know the business has been soft. I mean there are pockets of growth and you know there's a lot of emerging players and direct consumer brands that are doing well. But overall, from our Checkout tracking, which is the consumer-based tracking, we see that handbag sales are down about 14% this year so far. So year to date January Actually that's through August but actually the units are flat, which is actually an improvement. So we are seeing some declines now in prices after seeing a couple of years of increases in prices. So some of that is increased promotion, some of that is just mixed shift. So that's an interesting one. So you start to see the business migrating from maybe the satchel or the tote bag to some of the smaller cross bodies and whatever you want to call them fanny packs, belt bags, fling, chest Right. Impact that Lululemon has had on the industry is actually oh my God on that one big bag. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

16:45

Talk about a ripple effect, exactly. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

16:48

So a lot of the major brands in the industry may not want to hear it, but they are competing with this $48 price point belt bag that consumers are buying because you know what it serves the purpose and that can be their everyday bag now. So there's definitely a shift in what consumers are looking for. I know you and Nancy were talking about Hands-free is still very important Multiple ways to wear. I mean, like you said, a tote silhouette is never going to go away, but we have definitely seen some shift away from totes into cross bodies, into backpack. So what do you? 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

17:25

think about the convertible concept. I know overall customers search for convertible bags but I think they do much better at a retail or in a venue where they can have an explanation, because customers overall typically lack the foresight or wear with all to figure out how to use a bag that's multifunctional. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

17:47

Yeah, no, it's still very important and we do see multifunctional bags growing, but actually I think that's where almost there's I mean, you want to touch and feel and try it out, but then in a retail environment it's very hard to explain. Maybe if you have your own shop, that's one thing, but that's something that needs to and we talk about this in footwear as well, as function is becoming features and the benefits and the waterproofing and the comfort features and all needs to be explained to the consumer. But when your shoe is sitting there on a table in a department store, that's hard to do that. So, in one way, there being online or having your own retail does really allow you to tell your story much more clearly. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

18:29

Right, yeah. Or to have the social media impact of brands with fans, to create your own channel to tell the story, like base handbags, b-e-i-s, which that is a phenomenal story. Yep, came out of nowhere and now I think I know their strategy was very specific to grow on their own social, grow on their own platform and then be very thoughtful with expansion and, of course, they went straight to Nordstrom. Yep, that's where Ah, I was going to go. Yeah, exactly. But when you look at the newness and the innovation, I don't see anything so groundbreaking. But when you see how it's sold and thoughtfulness, and then the explanation of the unique selling points and how it opens and look, we have a bag for dirty laundry. It says dirty laundry, those key points which bring people in and then get more following. If you ever wanted to start a handbag brand and you didn't know where to start, this is for you. If you had dreams of becoming a handbag designer but aren't trained in design, this is for you. If you have a handbag brand and need strategy and direction, this is for you. 

19:39

I'm Emily Blumenthal, handbag designer expert and handbag fairy godmother, and this is the handbag designer 101 masterclass. Over the next 10 classes, I will break down everything you need to know to make, manufacture and market a handbag brand. Broken down, to ensure that you will not only skip steps in the handbag building process, but also to save money to avoid the learning curve of costly mistakes. For the past 20 years, I've been teaching at the top fashion universities in New York City, wrote the handbag designer Bible, founded the handbag awards and created the only handbag designer podcast. 

20:15

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Beth Goldstein

Guest

20:55

Function has just become much more important over. Fashion is also important, obviously, but the function has become basically an element of the fashion. So you want different pockets, because you don't necessarily need a huge bag, but you need the pockets for the phone and whatever else you're carrying, and the water bottle, which everybody's carrying around, yeah. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

21:17

So what do you think about the fact you know, just going back to base handbags Funny enough, I mean, I was one of the people who pronounced it incorrectly for a long time, until I was watching Shea Mitchell give the explanation at my base bag, base bag I'm like what, huh, what? Oh, okay, it's pronounced base, do you think? And Terry Agin has written several books, who was the former fashion editor of the Wall Street Journal? She wrote a book about the end of fashion and then it's forgot the name of her subsequent book about killing the runway or something just about, like, the power of celebrity taking over. And because they already have that preset vehicle to sell, do you see that, in terms of what you know I don't even know if this is tracked, but like that celeb impact in terms of being able to sell a new product, is that something that you follow in terms of products coming in? 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

22:11

We don't really. I mean, we track the increase in the use, obviously, of social media, but it's, you know, it's not a one size fits all, or sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and it depends on how. And the authenticity is super important, you know. Yeah, consumers are getting smarter to the fact that when something's sponsored or paid, you know it's not as authentic. So, you know it does vary. But there are certainly celebrities out there that seem to be able to, you know, really drive business with whatever they do. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

22:40

We or I probably interrupted you. You were talking about silhouettes coming in and out. So if we can continue just talking about that and where some opportunities lie and I know the last time we spoke, you know you said that there was definitely a lack of newness, of new shapes, new sizes, new products coming in and how that could be considered an opportunity yeah, absolutely yeah. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

23:04

So in terms of the silhouettes, you know cross bodies, the biggest, followed by the shoulder bags and the tote bags, but we've seen some small silhouettes continuing to grow, Like you were talking in one of the other episodes I think it was probably with Nancy as well on clutches. So we did. Clutches last year had a good year because people got back to going to social occasions. It's generally a small category and their convertibility is important as well, because sometimes maybe you want to hold in your hand, but then sometimes you want to chain or a strap. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

23:32

It has to come with a strap. Yeah, absolutely. I always tell people like, give it, give the option, put it on the inside, open it up, put it there, have it come out one way or another. Right, because I mean the clutch. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

23:40

It looks nice when you're clutching it, but you know, when you're at that cocktail party and you've got your little plate of appetizers and your drink, you know it doesn't work right. So the function is definitely right, right, right, right. You know backpacks have really grown, as really the new commuter work tote. So you know there definitely have been some emerging silhouettes. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

24:03

We were talking how you had said the last time. We spoke about the lack of new shapes coming in, that new track and how that could be perceived. An opportunity, right. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

24:16

So in terms of right, innovation and newness, it's a tricky proposition because we need newness, we need excitement to get consumers, you know, to really build up that demand. 

24:26

But of course there are icons that are out there that you want to protect and maybe continue to keep out there and maybe it's really about managing that. So many brands have really deep archives at this point and you know, every once in a while dipping back into them to bring something out that feels fresh and new or evolving it a little bit with, you know, whether it's different trimmings or, you know, colorations a little bit more function than it may have had the first time around, because that wasn't as important at that time. So you know it's important to protect those bestsellers but make sure that they're not getting too ubiquitous because then the demand, then ultimately they start to get, you know, not so exciting anymore. But yeah, I mean, innovation is important and starting to see some new shapes. You know it's funny one thing that I think I haven't seen a lot of in years now and you're starting to see and looks a little new, is more of like the North-South silhouette versus the North-South. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

25:26

I love it, I love it, I love it. That's so funny. I've interviewed Aja, the brand that had done a collab with Michael Kors, I think, like a year or so ago, and they had said it's two very incredible women and said that from their call with Michael Kors, when he called them and they had their first Zoom, how he complimented them on their North-South bag and like the pair of them were like huh and I'm like there is a deficit of North-South bag. Yeah, I wish people would bring them back. That's my kind of a new family. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

25:58

That's my kind of a new family, yeah, and you're starting to see more interesting shapes. I mean, I saw an article just in one of the trend maybe it was who, what, where. I mean they're talking about all these bags on Amazon that look like designer bags. I mean maybe they feel like them when you actually get them into your hand. But from an innovation and a shape perspective, there is some interesting things out there. It's just a matter of getting that to the consumer and having retailers take the chance. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

26:30

Yeah, I'd spoken to a friend colleague who was at one of those brands and had said, like even with the Betsy Johnson bag, how the resale value of those item based bags was stronger than how much people would pay for them up front. And the cost of making them is so high because the labor on those bags is considerable, l Right, so things to take into consideration. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

26:58

Yeah, the novelty piece is interesting. That has done well, you know, cakespade. Obviously that's a piece of their business and it really is. If you hit that emotion and touch on something that is important to consumers and culturally relevant, I mean probably not going to be huge business but at least again that can be a way like a collaboration to provide buzz for the brand and just overall you know halo effect. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

27:28

You know you had mentioned a couple of things. One, novelty bags. Do you think, as a result of the pandemic, this idea of a cool, innovative, fun bag truly stems from the fact that handbags took such a hit during COVID you know nobody needed them truly that after the fact people were like I need something fun, I need something cool, innovative all of that. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

27:56

Yeah, I mean it's funny. During the pandemic, you know, I heard a lot of talk about okay, we need washable bags at anti-microbial fabrics and that is a solution in search of a problem. I mean, it became clear pretty quickly that we were not getting sick from our bags, you know. But yes, I think it stems from the fact that we were just hermits for a while and we've come out of it with wanting to express ourselves a little bit more. And that may be, you know, to one more extremes, to certain people, and other people want to do a little, you know, like, take Crocs and the gibbits, and you know that idea can translate to handbags as well, and Coach has done a lot of this with, you know, offering the personalization options. So, just being able to individualize and you know, and personalize or customize an item to your taste to allow you to express yourself, that has been definitely something that we've seen and we see it across industries, I mean. 

28:53

So I mentioned footwear, but in beauty, that's been a really big factor and I think the handbag industry could definitely take some lessons from the beauty industry just in general. I mean beauty beyond just benefiting from the fact that we have emerged from our, you know, cocoons. It's just the ideas of expressing oneself, innovation in that industry, disruption, the power of social media and then the product you mentioned earlier, just being able to, you know, in beauty. You see all these demos and the testimonials in bags. That's important too, Like look at this bag and what I can do with it, what I can put in it, and all of that. So I think there are definitely some parallels. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

29:30

A couple more points that I want to make sure we cover. One you had mentioned anchor bags, anchor pieces or basically the hero bag of a collection. Right, you know, if your customer is coming back over and over to the same one bag I mean this goes for any industry. You know, like with Balenciaga Dip, with the motorcycle bag that's my favorite case study that it came out with bigger hardware. It was bigger, it was a different color, it was neon, it was. You know, all of a sudden it was patchwork, like to continuously iterate that one product to get people to want to keep coming back, like if you have a loyal customer. Don't miss that opportunity. And I think from a research standpoint that's just as important to see that kind of trend. Yeah, absolutely. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

30:17

And you look at like Mark Jacobs is doing that, you know, with the snapshot camera bag and with the various the traveler totes different fabrications, different sizes, different colors and that makes a really great presentation in store as well. It really draws you in. And then of course it keeps you coming back because you might have the black one, because you bought that one, because it was more practical, the most practical, but you might come back with a different. You know, buy one with a different fabrication or color or strap. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

30:44

Exactly, if we can talk a little bit about eco friendly sustainability. How is that playing into the data that you're collecting? Clearly it's a trend. Clearly people care. Do people care enough in terms of that cost benefit analysis of you know, gen Z theoretically cares more. They ask more questions, they look, they research, they check transparency. Is this something that you think is truly on the rise for handbag brands or are they trying to make sure? Let me at least check the box, let me have one bag to be part of my collection, just to make sure that if anybody asks, I've got one, like what Coach did with Coach Topia, which was so clever of taking all those old bags and refashioning them into a patchwork new limited edition bag. I mean, that's to me. I was like, thank God someone did that. I was waiting for that to happen. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

31:41

Yeah, it's important, and when we survey consumers, it's increasingly important. You get less enthusiasm when you ask would you pay more? You know it's not, as consumers are becoming more educated about the subject. It's not only about the materials, it's also about the production and development, the back end and the energy and the water usage, and you know, so that's all. It's like a 360 degree process. But that's right to communicate right. The easiest thing to communicate is this is made with recyclable, with recycled water bottles or whatever. 

32:14

So I think that it's hard to quantify the ROI now, but it's where the industry, the fashion industry as a whole, has to move, because it's clear that the other impacts of fashion to the environment are increasingly negative. That's becoming more well known and we have to be doing better to stop just putting all this waste out there. So either we're using that waste I know nobody wants to hear this but producing less and selling less. You know it's interesting. That's kind of like the Qiyana oh my God, yeah, yeah, yeah, auto. You know fewer, better things and that the kind of what we need to do. 

32:54

So, you know, I think it kind of does suggest that we might end up on this kind of continued downturn, but that at some point that kind of becomes the new level and we're just consuming less, as you know, in human beings. I mean, I think we're all kind of trying to maybe simplify a little bit and, you know, I definitely find myself thinking twice when I want to buy something now more. You know, I really need this, I want another one of these, but I love the idea of, you know, of all of the reusing of scraps or, you know, just trying for zero waste, and we see a lot of brands making these pledges now for zero waste, the, you know, zero carbon footprints. I do think it's important and while it's hard to quantify now, if we don't move in that direction we're going to be in big trouble. You know, in a number of years. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

33:42

I wish I mean I want to add on to that as Quarantine vegan leather versus leather on sales. But side note, I wish there was a method or something with Amazon that they could like collect the boxes they ship in, because, honestly, the amount of boxes I mean you can make a bag out of boxes that, yeah, I can make a house out of those boxes itself. But your take on consumer behavior, on vegan leather versus actual leather and sales and sweet spot of price points, what have you found? 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

34:15

Yeah, I mean, I think whether obviously it's still. I mean, I think consumers are open to other materials now and you have vegan leather. That could be misleading, right, and then brands are arguing it well and you know, are really, but vegan leather, in many cases that's become a term, that's term that's being used for, just like plastic basically, Obviously it was PVC, now it's PU, but honey, it was still not vegan. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

34:40

Like it's just not right. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

34:42

So, yeah, I think consumers are definitely more open to it, but the vast majority probably are, you know, still focused on leather. But again, that will. You know, with education that could be changed. But there are brands that are working with leather in ways that are better than they might have been in the past. I know you had a sponsor, right, it was like Pina Tech, like these, like, yeah, pina Tech based leathers. I think is really interesting opportunity because those are really leather-like. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

35:10

Right, but I know, like Myco, NYCO, the mushroom leather company, I know they couldn't scale it. Yeah, so it's trouble, it's a problem because if you can't even have a condom, that's a scale when creating these new materials, then it actually becomes prohibitive for people to be using them. I mean, I did a TikTok of, like a fruit salad, of companies that have done bags out of those materials and I reached out to I think I don't remember if it was the like there's banana tacks, there's one that is made out of orange peels, there's one made out of their buttons that are made out of potatoes. Yeah, reached out to them and they are struggling with how to use it and what to do with it. Like, it's great that it exists. The comma then what? Right, you know, like all those accolades mean nothing if you can't utilize the product and you can't scale it for people to use, right? So, one of the things, sweet spot of price points what have you found in terms of trends? Of that? 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

36:09

We've seen prices inching up and it's crazy because I mean you look at things like the Uniqlo bag, the shoulder bag, that's $20 and that's, you know, very buzzy right now and it's a great little bag, I have to say. And then you've got all the way up to designer. So you know, I think consumers are picking and choosing not necessarily based on price, but yeah, I mean, we generally see the, you know the two to 300 range is going to be, you know that bulk, but of course you know it's such a broad range it's hard to just pick a sweet spot. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

36:48

Do you cover collaborations? Does that ever tie into any of your data? 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

36:53

It depends If you get some data on it, if they're selling in, you know the retailers that we're tracking. I think collaborations are a good strategy. I mean, they're not usually generally going to be what generates the most revenue, but I think they're important from a consumer acquisition standpoint, from a marketing buzz standpoint, and can be good, you know, additions just to the overall strategy. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

37:19

Is there any other key points that you would like to leave us with for moving forward, for handbags industry and so forth? I'm sure you've got some lasting points that will keep us on our toes, yeah. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

37:30

One thing is about the age and I think I mentioned this when we met with your students that some of the survey work we did shows that regular handbag usage for activities aside from work in school because when someone's going to work in school they are most likely taking a bag but more handbag usage for social activities is much lower for younger consumers, for that 18 to 34 age group, versus the 35 plus. 

37:55

So I think that's just something that is an industry we need to take note of and a lot of the things that we're talking about today are ways that we can reengage, you know, with the innovation, you know and potentially some of this new materials or sustainability and just you know, more taking more chances at retail. The function you know can really get back. You know that age group, but it's also important just to understand what that age group is carrying. I mean, they're more likely to, when they are carrying, for it to be a small sling or cross body or chest bag or something like that. So we've got to kind of get into those new priorities. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

38:29

And I ask you do you see denim sales on the rise? You track denim sales? Yeah, For denim sales for that age group significantly higher than it used to be. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

38:41

I don't have to look at the numbers there. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

38:45

The only reason why I'm asking is because you know I had a handbag researcher, handbag historian on, which was so fascinating, oh my God, I can't wait for that one to come out. But speaking to and I know this just based on my own research that the evolution of what a handbag represented in class and so forth, and that when the pocket was created, how that was like a ripple effect of independence and hands free and that was the first time that women were able to be on their own and with that less to worry about, and I can only say personally, from the spawn I've created, that you know that even in the summer, genes were being worn and I'm like it's so hot, why don't you wear a cute dress? It's like, no, I need the pockets. So that whole construct of having you know there is no such thing as a denim gene that is off trend at this point. 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

39:36

Right, and you know the styles. I mean, obviously skinny is still a big piece of the market, but more wide leg, that's something that's come out of the pandemic, you know. More wide leg, flowy, high waisted, you know, for more comfort. So that there that is actually. You know there's. There's newness in denim. Even though these right silhouettes aren't necessarily new, they've been dormant for so much, for so long, that they seem like there's newness, so that's wow, that's, it's new to them, it ain't new to us, but yeah, exactly. 

40:03

But it's, you know, like I know one of the things is you kind of mentioned the handbag and the status and you know one of the things that I've said over the years is that we've seen the sneaker business kind of take over that, maybe take over that distinction, as the status item Right Handbag can't be anymore and it is Right People still. But I think you know the sneaker kind of came in and took that over a little bit. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

40:29

Well, I think there's plenty of opportunities here and I believe you've shown us a lot of places where, as designers, as brands, where we can grow and what we can make changes and really have an impact. So, beth Goldstein from Serkana, thank you so very much for being with us. How can we follow you and those nuggets of information, because I know you were active on the Twitter on the X? 

Beth Goldstein

Guest

40:54

Yeah, Well, I know I've been like well so lately. Sure, you can find me on the X I guess that's what we're calling it I think it's BL Goldstein Zero there and then, obviously, LinkedIn, Beth Goldstein. Serkanacom is our website. You can email me at dot goldstein at Serkanacom. So yeah, it's different ways. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

41:18

Thank you so much. We are absolutely going to have you back for a subsequent trend update, for perhaps to the quarters to come. Sounds great, thank you. Thank you, and it was a pleasure having you. Thanks so much. Thanks for listening. Don't forget to rate and review and follow us on every single platform at Handbag Designer. Thanks so much. I'll see you next time. 

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