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.
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews