How Brighton Collectibles Belts, Handbags and Jewelry Gained Popularity

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American accessories manufacturer and retailer Brighton Collectibles has been a staple in the fashion business since its inception in 1969.

Although it doesn’t have the same mass commercial appeal it once did, Brighton is still popular across the world, and its quality certainly hasn’t waned.

Known for jewelry and leather goods, Brighton has a storied past with a dedication to style and excellence, allowing it to have maintained relevance for decades. Here’s everything you need to know about this brand:

Brighton’s Origins

Brighton began when Terri Kohl, née Kravitz, and her husband Jerry Kohl opened a store in 1969 in Alhambra, California.

The two, who fell in love in high school, hadn’t yet graduated when they first opened their store, but once they earned their diplomas, they began working in it full-time, with their main products being T-shirts and assorted leather goods.

Terri and Jerry Kohl founded Brighton Collectibles in 1991Terri and Jerry Kohl founded Brighton Collectibles in 1991 (Credit: PRNewswire)

The Kohls wanted to improve their operation and mitigate issues within their business. Although they had the ideas, they lacked the resources until a nearby couple selling similar products decided to sell their business and move to New Zealand.

The new business venture for the Kohls was Leegin, helmed by Jerry. Their company manufactured and sold luxury leather goods.

Jerry and Terri punctuated their business with quality customer service and hard work, and as the business expanded, so did their product line. In 1991, the Kohls started selling belts under Brighton Collectibles, and from there, it expanded into the brand it’s known as today.

Paying homage to its country of inspiration, Brighton was named after the English city of the same namePaying homage to its country of inspiration, Brighton was named after the English city of the same name (Credit: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock)

The name Brighton has a special meaning, too. Aiming for ultimate style and luxury, the Kohls modeled their belts after English belts, as they were known for their quality.

To pay homage to the country of inspiration, the Kohls chose the name Brighton after the English city of the same name.

Its Rise in Popularity

Although Brighton started with just belts, it soon began selling handbags, perfume, jewelry, and other luxury goods.

Designed and manufactured in the United States, Brighton appealed to Americans because it was local – all of its products were first made in Los Angeles, California – and it appealed to international customers because of its quality and style.

Brighton Collectibles started with just belts before it began selling bags, perfumes, jewelry, and other accessoriesBrighton Collectibles started with just belts before it began selling bags, perfumes, jewelry, and other accessories (Credit: Helen89 / Shutterstock)

Brighton items started for men, but soon they were being worn by women, too. Within just a few short years, people across America, Italy, Taiwan, France, China, Korea, and Japan were spotted with the brand’s items.

Brighton Items and Materials

Brighton has long been known for its belts and handbags, but it’s also known for its shoes, jewelry, and other accessories, like coin purses and eyewear.

Brighton Collectibles is an American brand famous for belts and bagsBrighton Collectibles is an American brand famous for belts and bags

Some of its more unique items include keyfobs and earring boxes, and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Brighton began producing and selling face masks as well.

This wide variety of merchandise gives Brighton a leg up on its competitors with more limited product lines.

Brighton also offers footwear, coin purses, cosmetic cases, jewelry, face masks, and unique items like earring boxes and keyfobsBrighton also offers footwear, coin purses, cosmetic cases, jewelry, face masks, and unique items like earring boxes and keyfobs

Brighton hand designs and handcrafts each of its items, and it uses only the finest materials. If you’re carrying a Brighton handbag, using a Brighton belt, or wearing Brighton footwear, you’re in fine leather.

If you’re wearing Brighton jewelry, you’re in quality metal like silver and gold. Keep in mind, however, that Brighton jewelry is not fine – it’s mostly silver- and gold-plated.

Comparable Brands

Brighton is sold at Zappos and in stores, mostly independent boutiques, across the United States, but it is not sold in many major retailers, giving it a unique set of competitors. You can also find discounted Brighton jewelry and bags on Amazon.

Brighton is comparable in price and quality to designer brands such as Tory Burch, Coach, Ted Baker, and Michael Kors.

However, because these brands are sold at stores like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus, and the only major retailer that carries Brighton is Von Maur, most would consider Brighton a luxury brand, but not necessarily a designer brand.

Brighton Today

What was once a trendy brand has now transitioned into an established brand known for its enduring quality rather than commercial appeal among young crowds.

Brighton still manufactures fine leather goods and jewelry, but it’s not a leader in the trend space like some of its competitors. Rather, Brighton is associated with sophistication and refinement over trend and pomp.

Brighton is known for its quality designs, associated with sophistication and refinementBrighton is known for its quality designs, associated with sophistication and refinement (Credit: Brighton)

Brighton began selling its merchandise online in 2011. While many brands choose to heavily market their online store, Brighton launched theirs quietly.

This didn’t matter, though – the website still received thousands of orders that weekend, speaking to the power of the Brighton brand. Its customer base is loyal thanks to its enduring quality.

Although Brighton is still headquartered there, its products are no longer exclusively manufactured in the United States. The company now outsources much of its manufacturing, particularly its footwear and handbags, to Brazil, India, Italy, China, and Spain.

Brighton outsources its manufacturing to Brazil, India, Italy, China, and SpainBrighton outsources its manufacturing to Brazil, India, Italy, China, and Spain (Credit: Brighton)

Brighton maintains a heavy focus on its coordination efforts. The brand wants to help men and women create a cohesive look with their accessories, so it manufactures products that match, allowing wearers to serve a complete look.

It also designs products within collections that can coordinate with other collections, allowing customers to select items from any collection and still wear head-to-toe Brighton.

Brighton manufactures products that match, allowing wearers to serve a complete lookBrighton manufactures products that match, allowing wearers to serve a complete look (Credit: Brighton)

The brand is also focused on its charity efforts. Since 2003, Brighton has raised money for breast cancer research, treatment, and education through its Power of Pink initiative. Every October, some of Brighton’s proceeds go toward the brand’s goal to erase the disease.

Brighton uses its brand power to help other causes, too. Some of its other projects include collecting and distributing shoes and handbags to people in need across the globe, providing children with music education, providing homeless animals with shelter and food, and helping teachers pay for school supplies.

In 2021, Brighton Collectibles founders Terri and Jerry Kohl made an immediate $5 million gift and pledged a challenge grant in support of the LA Opera Orchestra and the company’s post-COVID recovery.

Brighton continues to lead the industry in creativity, style, value, and design, and its dedication to serving its communityBrighton continues to lead the industry in creativity, style, value, and design, and its dedication to serving its community (Credit: Brighton)

Brighton has always been a champion of quality products and customer service. It continues to lead the industry in creativity, style, value, and design, and its dedication to serving its community makes the brand more appealing.

Brighton remains under the same leadership today as it has since its beginning, further proving its commitment to its core values. Few brands have managed to stand the test of time, but with excellence at its center, Brighton continues to thrive.

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