Under president Charles Jayson, Judith Ripka, the 34-year-old jewelry brand, has an active agenda.
Jayson, who joined last December, aims to establish Ripka as an international player, expand its retail presence in the U.S. and license several categories. He hails from Andrew Marc, where he served as president and chief executive officer, and before that was president and ceo of Dickson North America.
Jayson said he is looking to increase Ripka’s business by 15 percent each year for the next three years. He said the firm’s own retail stores account for 35 percent of volume, which he declined to divulge. However, industry sources estimate Ripka’s retail volume between $150 million and $200 million.
“Judith Ripka’s popularity has grown over the years,” Jayson said. “It has supported her family and now future generations as well. As a company, it has continued to exceed its goals, which will allow for further expansion of retail stores and international distribution to world-class retailers.”
Ripka operates 14 stores in the U.S. in such markets as Aspen, Colo., Beverly Hills, Las Vegas and New York. The firm will open a 15th door next month in Dallas’ Highland Park Village shopping center and will unveil three stores a year until it has “a retail store in every luxury market,” he said.
Already a presence in Russia, Mexico, the Caribbean and Canada, Ripka is also pushing into the Middle East through a distribution plan in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, slated for 2009.
Additionally, the company is planning on licensing such categories as watches, eyewear and fragrance, although it declined to specify when and with whom.
“We need to be in Asia and the Middle East, and we need to get into licensing, and Chuck is the guy who is going to get us there,” said Ronald J. Berk, ceo at Ripka. “In terms of expansion, there’s a global shift taking place and we have to follow the money. In the U.S., there’s an absence of that bridge or aspirational customer and sales are taking place on the higher-end market all over the world.”
In an effort to attract the luxury consumer, Ripka has started to expand its higher-priced offerings. The firm’s 18-karat Couture Collections feature pieces flanked by pink opals and sapphires as well as emeralds and white moonstones. The new Aurora Collection, for example, retails from $5,000 for a gold link necklace with gemstones to $85,000 for a gold and diamond necklace. The current collection also includes a one-of-a-kind diamond Truffle necklace retailing for $350,000.
Among the firm’s wholesale accounts are Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.
“The luxury customer is always going to be spending,” said Berk. “And we need to provide that customer with fabulous product and focus on that part of the business. There is increased competition for luxury dollars. With couture brands offering high jewelry, we need to make the buying experience rewarding and give the customer something special to make them buy us.”
Jayson said he was enticed by the firm’s family-run atmosphere. Berk is designer Judith Ripka’s husband and two of her three sons, Brian and David, serve as president of the brand’s wholesale division and as chief operating officer, respectively. Jayson was also impressed with the loyalty of Ripka customers.
“Certain brands have the ability to grow in different ways,” Jayson said. “In the case of Judith Ripka, it has already established itself as an important luxury accessory to women in the U.S. Now it’s also growing internationally and her designs and aesthetic have a natural ability to be applied to other products that her customers have requested.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast