Kay Lee, who founded the brand 15 years ago, will open a new store in NoLIta at the end of the month, which represents store number five in Manhattan. The 650-square-foot “nook,” as Lee calls it, will be devoted to Otte’s in-house label, which she designs. The collection is minimalist and modern, with sleeveless V-neck silk dresses with rounded hems and cotton voile tops with uneven hems. “We decided to grow the Otte brand,” said Lee, noting that the collection is manufactured in the Garment Center.
Otte units, which average about 1,000 square feet, do from $1.5 million to over $2 million in sales a year.
The recently unveiled #8 New York Showroom — eight is a lucky number in Lee’s native Korea — wholesales the Otte collection along with the lines of eight young designers. Lynn Rosetti, a veteran of Steven Alan, is Lee’s partner and director of the showroom, which also showcases her handbag line, Oliveve. The other brands represented include Poupette, Sunday Somewhere, Alexia scarves, Great by Sandie, Lionette by Noa Sade and Marie Turnor.
In addition to lesser known names, Otte carries 3.1 Phillip Lim, Acne, Carven, Kenzo, Isabel Marant, MSGM, Rag & Bone and Vanessa Bruno, among others.
A Brooklyn location planned for next year will be something of a homecoming for Kay, who unveiled her first store there in 1999.
E-commerce is growing at a 40 percent to 50 percent clip. Online is a bigger focus for the company, Lee said, noting that 50 percent of the online business comes from international customers, mostly in China, Japan and Southeast Asia.
Stores in Asia are on the horizon. “The concept of a multibrand store is lacking in Asia,” Lee said. “We’ll open stores as soon as we can find the right local partner.
“I’m executing a foundation for this brand,” said Lee, who has put a team in place. In 2011, Lee realized she needed a right hand, so she hired Nancy Zhang, a former marketing manager at Google, as vice president and chief operating officer. “Nancy is executing an entrepreneurial vision,” Lee said. After Zhang joined, Otte in 2012 opened its biggest store, on Third Avenue and 71st Street, which Lee refers to as the flagship.
Lee’s is a rags to riches story. After studying fashion design at Parsons The New School for Design, she worked at J.C. Penney and Forever 21. She decided to open her own store in Brooklyn on Bedford Avenue. With no merchandise or money, she borrowed leftovers from her designer friends such as Jody Arnold. “I still kept my job,” she said. “I worked seven days a week for three years, nonstop.” In 2002, Lee opened a store on Greenwich Avenue in the West Village. A Madison Avenue and 94th Street unit bowed in 2008. When her 10-year lease ended in Brooklyn in 2009, Lee closed the store and opened another one in TriBeCa.
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)