NEW YORK — Richard Chai is stepping on the accelerator with a little help from new friends.
SK Networks Co. Ltd. took a minority stake in the New York-based label earlier this month. The plan is to help grow the designer's global distribution and profile, particularly in Asia, where the South Korean firm also markets lines such as Donna Karan and DKNY.
Chai, himself Korean-American, sees the development as an opportunity to take his two-year-old label to the next level. "It has been growing in a steady way," the designer, who is presenting his fall collection on Feb. 7, said of his business, which launched for spring 2005. "In the beginning it was about explaining my philosophy and being creative and having fun, so I knew the business side would take time."
That time, it seems, is arriving with the financial backing SK Networks has promised for Chai. "Our initial plan is to establish a business task force consisting of top-notch professionals through investment," said Chang-Kyu Lee, SK Networks' executive vice president. "We will provide the company with financial aids and the establishment of global distribution channels."
Before branching out on his own, Chai was the creative design director for Tse, and prior to that, the director of design at Marc Jacobs' men's and women's Collection and Marc by Marc Jacobs men's wear. Chai is also the consulting creative director of Onward Kashiyama's contemporary line, Nave.
Chai's label is sold in 30 doors, including Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue and a slew of specialty stores such as Jakes in Chicago, Browns in London, Joyce in Hong Kong, Mercury in Moscow and Boon The Shop in Seoul.
"With a preliminary preparation in 2007, we expect to open up about 10 retail stores in global markets including New York, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing…and hopefully expand to other Asian countries in the near future," Lee said.
"Every designer would love to have his own freestanding stores, to bring your vision and show your point of view," Chai said.
The designer doesn't like to talk numbers and wouldn't disclose the size of the stake, his volume, sales projections or even his age. With SK Networks, Chai said he hopes to add men's wear to his existing collection. He also wants to grow his stock-keeping units, and add pre-collections and a resort season to his mix. The deal will enable him to focus even more on design. "Starting out on my own, I had to do everything, like writing checks, but that burden is now taken off and I can focus on creative 100 percent," he said.SK Networks hopes to use Chai as a stepping stone to globalize its firm. "Our anticipation is to reach the sales mark of $100 million [for Richard Chai's wholesale and retail operation] by 2010, with SK Networks being in charge of global distribution and Richard Chai on the diverse products extension from 2009," said Lee.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye