NEW YORK — The Isabella Co. (New York) Inc. is adding retailer to its repertoire.
The multiline showroom here, which wholesales, markets and distributes several European bridge labels, recently opened two in-store shops at Montreal retailer Ogilvy for the brands Basler and Gerard Darel, which Isabella also represents in New York. According to the firm's president, Howard Aubrey, the plan is to open more such stand-alone stores for some of its labels, as well as venture into a new retail concept that could carry several of Isabella's lines.
In its high-tech, 12,000-square-foot digs just off Seventh Avenue, Isabella represents the Basler, Bianca and Annette Görtz lines from Germany, Gerard Darel from France, Sita Murt from Spain, and Homme Body from England.
At Ogilvy, the 1,250-square-foot Basler boutique and adjacent 950-square-foot Gerard Darel boutique were created to resemble each brand's own stores. Worldwide, Basler, the German collection of high-quality sportswear separates and knits, has six company-owned stores and 35 franchised boutiques, while Gerard Darel has 50 boutiques, 18 franchised stores and 81 in-store shops.
"We hope that our new stores will help build brand-name recognition in the USA and Canada for both Basler and Gerard Darel, which in turn will help increase our distribution with independent specialty and department stores," Aubrey added.
Isabella was founded in 1985 as a joint venture between The Isabella Co. (London), Aubrey's family business, and Basler GmbH. Basler continues to own 50 percent of the business here but has no involvement with the other lines the company represents. According to Aubrey, the company has annual wholesale sales of $20 million.
Aubrey said he is currently looking for retail real estate in Palm Desert, Calif., to house several of the company's lines under one roof. "We know the customer base in Palm Desert is ideal for our client base, and there are no multibrand retailers there who could carry our lines adequately," Aubrey explained.
Eventually, the as-yet-unnamed specialty store could spread to other regions, where Isabella's lines are underrepresented. Aubrey plans to have three stores by the end of next year, two of which will be for Basler. "One of our goals is brand promotion," Aubrey added. "We believe this will help our retail clients."