Swank Inc., the men’s accessories supplier, thinks it has found the platform to get into the women’s belt business — a strategic alliance with Style 365 LLC, a women’s belt resource.
Swank, which designs, sources and distributes men’s belts and other accessories to a range of retailers under a sizable portfolio of licensed and owned brands, will assume responsibility for sourcing, logistics, financing and other backroom functions for Style 365. John Tulin, chairman and chief executive officer of Swank, said his firm had made an investment in the women’s firm but declined to specify its size.
Elisa Grimaldi, ceo of Style 365, and Nicole Jefferson, president, will be based in Swank’s headquarters at 90 Park Avenue in Manhattan and will report to Tulin. Style 365 has a “seven-figure” volume, Tulin noted, but declined to be more specific. Sourcing previously had been handled through a trading company.
“Our retail accounts had asked us why we weren’t in the women’s belt business, and we saw a lot of opportunity in it, but we didn’t want to get into it without someone who’d made a living selling women’s belts,” Tulin said. “These two women have built themselves a pretty substantial women’s belt business selling big specialty chains, and we have not just the backroom capabilities but also the retail and licensing contacts to help them build from where they are.”
Swank’s license portfolio includes names such as Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, Geoffrey Beene, Claiborne, Guess, Chaps, Tumi, Pierre Cardin and Ted Baker, as well as its most recent addition, Buffalo David Bitton. While licensed products at this point don’t include women’s belts or accessories, Style 365, which produces private label merchandise, could change that.
“We didn’t want to take on a license without the infrastructure to support it,” Tulin said. “We weren’t comfortable going into that wholesale environment without the platform to support it. We spent a year looking for people we could be comfortable with, and who could be comfortable with us, and now feel we’ve found them.”
Tulin acknowledged Swank is in discussions that would move the women’s business into a branded environment, but wouldn’t comment on whether current licensors were among those involved in talks.
Swank has dabbled in the women’s business during its history, which dates to 1897. The brand sold its women’s jewelry business, a $60 million venture which included licenses for Anne Klein and Guess, to K&M Associates in 2001, and had executed special orders for some of its larger retail accounts in the past.
In the first quarter ended March 31, Swank cut its net loss to $279,000 from $411,000 in the prior-year quarter as sales contracted to $24 million from $24.7 million. Sales of nonluxury items increased 13.6 percent despite a 2 percent drop in nonluxury belt volume.
On Monday, shares picked up 35 cents, or 16.7 percent, to close at $2.45 in over-the-counter trading.
“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