Silver Cross makes a stylish entrance
Back in May, I posted about the legendary stroller brand, Silver Cross, and their imminent return to the US market. Today I was invited to attend a very posh launch party at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, where I had the opportunity to review the full line of strollers and speak with some of the executives from London Bridge Partners, the new entity that has exclusive distribution rights for the United States. I particularly enjoyed spending some time with Michael Silberstein, the President of both London Bridge Partners and one of my favorite toy companies, Infantino.
Mr. Silberstein has promised to send me images of the strollers that were on display today, and I will post them once I receive them. Meanwhile, here’s a quick glance at the “new” models that will be available here (some are already shipping or en route, while others are coming soon, as noted).
The Balmoral – The luxurious cornerstone of the Silver Cross brand. This classic design has gone largely unchanged for decades, and each piece is still completely handmade by skilled craftsmen in England. Practical? Nope. It weighs in at a whopping 66 lbs and it doesn’t fold at all. But it’s got incredible suspension, not to mention the whole status symbol thing. Price, you ask? $2,995 for black or navy. If you want to special order it in pink, powder blue or brown & cream, it’s $3,995.
The Kensington – A smaller sibling to the Balmoral, the Kensington is also hand-crafted in England. It offers the added bonus of folding – sort of. It comes apart and the wheeled chassis collapses down. Not what you’d call compact, but it’s something. Retail price is $1,995 for black or navy. Like the Balmoral, you can now special order this pram in different colors for $3,200.
The S4 – This is the Silver Cross take on an all-terrain stroller. It offers good stability, thanks to the double front wheel, a nice telescoping handle, and an excellent and easy-to-use strap recline system. The finishes feel solid and high-end, but the stroller weighs 27.6 lbs and based on my brief testdrive (on carpet, in fairness), the handling doesn’t meet the standards set by the Mountain Buggy, Valco, Phil & Ted’s, BOB…. (I could go on). It’s also more expensive than most of the competition, with a suggested retail price of $599.
The Linear Freeway & The Classic Sleepover – I didn’t spend too much time with either of these strollers. They are both large, heavy strollers with nice fabrics and features, but I don’t think that the designs are contemporary enough for many of today’s parents. They look and feel like upgraded Perego models to me.
The 3D Carriage – This was interesting. The frame is reminiscent of an Inglesina Zippy or Perego P3, but Silver Cross has made a nice improvement. The stroller comes with a soft insert that transforms the stroller seat into a bassinet. It’s very nicely done. But the 3D is also quite heavy, at almost 28 lbs, and costs about twice as much as the Zippy, at $599. Available in October.
The POP – I was pretty excited about this model. I felt like the other models in the line were compromised by both weight and value. The POP is different, though. It’s definitely designed to take on the Maclaren Techno head-to-head. It is lighter than the Techno, at 14.3 lbs, and also less expensive, at $249. The recline mechanism is excellent – easy to manipulate and quiet, too. The hood offers a UV-protective viewing window, and the handlebars are tall (43″ high) and well-positioned. Available in September.
The Micro V2 – This is the only model introduced by the previous distributor that is continuing. But I’ve been assured that although it looks similar to the older version, the V2 has had a complete overhaul. In any case, I always liked the Micro. It’s a very lightweight (9.2 lbs), compact stroller similar to the Maclaren Volo. It is slightly more expensive than the Volo at $129, but it includes a cushy seat pad and a good-quality carrying bag. Underneath the seat pad, the mesh seat has been thoughtfully upgraded to include a cushioned backrest that uses air-flow fabric to keep kids cool on hot days.
It was apparent that the people from London Bridge Partners are very excited about this new venture. They have a lot of enthusiasm for the Silver Cross brand, and they have already proven their mettle with the success of Infantino. They seem to be very committed to providing a high level of customer service, which is key. The real question is whether Americans have enough nostalgia for the Silver Cross name that they are willing to pay a premium for the label.
130 years ago, Silver Cross was the innovator in this industry. Today, I think they need to push the envelope a bit more if they want to attract a new generation of parents. But having a stable and motivated distribution partner is an important first step, and with that accomplished, maybe now they can go back to the drawing board and reinvent the wheel(s) a bit.