When Designers Sell Direct

Branded stores are the hottest trend in retailing today. From fashion houses like Chanel and Dior which have always known the cachet of a designer boutique to household names like Sony, Nike and Liz Claiborne, manufacturers increasingly seek to capture the consumer's dollar - directly. The branded store brigade includes a sizable contingent of jewelry designers. Denver-based John Atencio leads the way with six stores in Colorado; the newest, and perhaps best known, member of the group is Lagos, whose tiny but tony shop opened in Philadelphia last fall. JCK talked to some designers who spend time behind the counter as well as behind the bench. Has the duality angered any of their wholesale accounts? Has it helped them run their businesses more profitably? Fears & feedback: Designer/retailers agree on one big advantage of having a retail operation: it gives them immediate consume

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