NEW YORK — “Massification” isn’t something that worries Cynthia Rowley.
Rowley points out that 12 years ago, she launched Swell by Cynthia Rowley, a home line with a smattering of apparel, just for Target. It had a three-year run. “I did Target two years before Isaac Mizrahi,” said Rowley. “People said it would be the end of my career.”
In the small showroom in the back of the Cynthia Rowley boutique on Bleecker Street, there’s a vibrant array of her prints, dresses, sportswear outfits, footwear, artwork on the walls, a serving table with cups and saucers that bear her signature and colored wet suits that she launched with Roxy and then on her own in 2011. She’s most proud of those, being a “surfer girl” on the Montauk beaches.
The 54-year-old contemporary designer plans to create additional swim and activewear, such as boardshorts and rash guards, and says she’s working on “a secret category — a riff off the wet suit,” although that’s just one of several Rowley rollouts in the works.
On tap: A four-level, 2,400-square-foot townhouse off Madison Avenue in the 70s for retailing and an art gallery that will open in November, provided the lease gets signed in the days ahead.
In October, Rowley heads to Japan to celebrate her 10th anniversary in business there, with two days of public appearances, a fashion show and a dinner party with Elle Japan. Rowley has about 50 in-store shops primarily in Isetan and Takashimaya, and a flagship in Aoyama through a partnership with Itochu Fashion Systems. “The Japanese are loyal to the brand and more experimental with the way they dress. There’s a free spirit across a broader demographic,” said Rowley.
In November, she’ll open a flagship in Seoul in partnership with Seokyung, and possibly two shops-in-shop, the locations of which are still to be determined. The company will also start selling on CJO, a Korean home shopping channel and Web site.
In the spring, Rowley will launch Cynthia Cynthia Rowley, an exclusive collection for Belk Inc., the regional department store based in Charlotte, N.C., and a retail neophyte in designer collaborations. Belk’s done only one other, with its Sophie Max by Leon Max collection.
“Even though Cynthia is not from the South, we like her style aesthetic. Color, print and florals are very dominant,” said Kathryn Bufano, Belk president and chief merchandising officer. “There’s a very feminine twist and dresses are a big piece of her collection.”
Cynthia Cynthia Rowley will be launched in March in 149 Belk doors, representing close to half the chain, and will include apparel, handbags, jewelry, scarves, accessories and small leather goods, priced $80 to $200. The collection will be displayed in 500- to 700-square-foot shops generally, though some could be as large as 2,000 square feet. Shoes will be added in fall 2013.
Print Edition by Cynthia Rowley, a separate collection based on runway prints and set at a slightly lower price point, initially launched at Cynthia Rowley boutiques and 150 Macy’s doors, and will be available at retailers including The Bay and Lord & Taylor beginning in the spring. DreamPop by Cynthia R., a collection of clothing and accessories for girls ages eight to 12, was launched this fall exclusively at 560 J.C. Penney doors, with accessories to be added in 2013.
Rowley’s wet suits have been rolled out as a separate assortment to retailers such as Kirna Zabête, Shopbop, Moda Operandi and Saturday Surf. She also has licenses for eyewear with B. Robinson, hosiery with United Legwear, shoes, home decor with Michael Miller, Band-Aids with Johnson & Johnson and sewing patterns and trims with Simplicity. Shoes and handbags are produced in-house. A digital marketing and social media strategy was developed about seven months ago in conjunction with the relaunch of their Web site.
The Cynthia Rowley business is expected to be in excess of $100 million in 2013, with 60 percent of the revenues in licensing, 25 percent in wholesaling and 15 percent via retailing, according to Peter Arnold, who has been Rowley’s president for six years.
“We are not just slapping our name on things,” said Arnold. “We are doing it deliberately. There is a strategy and always a reason why we do something new. Either Cynthia wants to be first or believes there’s room for good design.”
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)