Bags from Orla Kiely.

LONDON — Orla Kiely is looking for a backer to propel international growth.

This story first appeared in the July 28, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

This year the London-based accessories and lifestyle company will open its first U.S. flagship in New York, along with additional stores in Hong Kong, Japan and Paris.

A debut homewears range will bow in August.

Meanwhile, the privately owned company is also looking for investment for further international expansion.

“We’re open, but we don’t want to work with the wrong person,” said co-founder Dermott Rowan, adding that the backer would primarily be to bolster U.S. growth.

Rowan is bullish in his projections, forecasting a 25 percent year-on-year growth to the brand’s annual 20 million pounds, or $39 million, turnover for the foreseeable future.

The New York flagship will mark the company’s first step in this direction.

The store will most likely be in SoHo, in the region of 3,000 square feet, and will house the complete Orla Kiely offering.

Orla Kiely products are already sold in the U.S. through Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and specialty stores including Kitson and Fred Segal.

“Our ‘Stem’ print bag is one of the top-three best-selling items in Anthropologie, we have such good brand recognition there,” said Rowan, who’s optimistic about Orla Kiely’s growth potential in the U.S. “It’s got a real cult following.”

The Orla Kiely homewears line, which will include furniture, cushions, ceramics and bedding, will be sold through all the company’s freestanding stores, Heal’s furniture stores in the U.K. and will also be available for wholesale. Rowan was mum on details about pricing and aesthetics.

Designer Orla Kiely founded her brand in 1998 with Rowan, who is also her husband, as a small wholesale label. The first Orla Kiely store opened in Covent Garden in 2005 and the company has since grown to six freestanding stores with a wholesale base of over 1,000 stockists globally.

The Orla Kiely offering includes a 60-piece ready-to-wear women’s collection and a 60-unit accessories line, which includes leather goods and wax canvas pieces. In addition, the brand recently introduced stationery and confectionary gift collections.

Retail prices for accessories range from 62 pounds, or $122, for a canvas wallet to 600 pounds, or $1,181, for a leather tote. Apparel runs from 160 pounds, or $315, for a cotton blouse, to 300 pounds, or $591, for a coat.

“There’s something at every price level for people to buy,” said Rowan, adding hot sellers at the brand include large zip wallets and its classic print shoulder bags in wax canvas.

Next up: The brand is planning a line of archive pieces to celebrate its 10-year anniversary in 2009. An eyewear line in collaboration with London-based company Linda Farrow is also in the cards for next year.

“The product is ready, everything is ready for big growth,” said Rowan. “Now we’re ready for the next step.”�