By  on January 19, 2012

Vince Camuto is putting his business in the fast lane.

On the heels of his successful ready-to-wear launch, Camuto, chief executive officer and chief creative officer of the Camuto Group, has opened a new store on Broadway in SoHo and will roll out a new swimwear line at retail this month. Swimwear is the latest addition to the rapidly growing Vince Camuto lineup, which includes footwear, apparel, fragrance, dresses, outerwear, jewelry, handbags, eyewear, belts, cold-weather accessories and home. The company declined to divulge how much volume Vince Camuto merchandise generates, but said total sales have doubled every year for the past three years.

The swimwear, which is licensed to Swimwear Anywhere, takes its cue from Camuto’s accessories lines, using many of the same hardware and details. For example, there are pyramid studs on the bikinis that tie back to the jewelry, and snakeskin prints that relate to the footwear. Bikinis, one-piece suits and cover-ups wholesale from $70 to $130, according to Rosemarie DiLorenzo, chief creative officer, chief executive officer and co-founder of Swimwear Anywhere. The company also has the license to manufacture the Michael Michael Kors, Marc by Marc Jacobs, DKNY, Juicy Couture and Liz Claiborne swimwear brands, among others.

“We try and take the DNA [of Vince Camuto] and work seamlessly with them,” said DiLorenzo. She said the line is influenced by certain embellishments, such as neon pop colors, sequins, prints and Camuto’s love of skins. “It’s a very sophisticated line. It has sleek silhouettes and is geared to a very modern woman. She can be a young professional…a young mom,” she said. The swimwear, which is based at Swimwear Anywhere’s headquarters at 1441 Broadway in New York, will be introduced at stores such as Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Dillard’s and Belk, as well as specialty stores and vincecamuto.com.

Camuto’s 2,500-square-foot flagship, which is located at 532 Broadway (between Prince and Spring), features both the Vince Camuto and more upscale VC Signature collections of handbags and footwear. In addition, a selection of Vince Camuto sportswear and accessories is housed in a section in the back of the store. Along the back wall, a floor-to-ceiling video screen displays footage of the Vince Camuto lifestyle, including brand imagery, ad campaigns, product shots and celebrity fans.

The store drew inspiration from the architecture and interior design of traditional villas during the Renaissance. Diamond motifs and quilting techniques are combined with a rich color palette.

“The store opened a few days before Christmas,” said Camuto in an interview at the shop. “It’s a prime space on Broadway. As space goes down here, this is incredible real estate. It’s near the subways and the corner, so we grabbed it,” he said.

At the store, Vince Camuto footwear and handbags are displayed against a white wall along the right side, while VC Signature footwear and handbags are positioned against a brass and brown wall on the left. Velvet magenta and olive benches are lined up along the middle, and an emerald green sofa is situated in the apparel area.

Camuto said he’s seeking more locations in New York, following the opening of a store at Grand Central Terminal. He also said he’s redoing the Shoe Box stores that he owns and turning them into Vince Camuto stores. These boutiques are located throughout Manhattan, as well as the Americana in Manhasset, N.Y., and Wheatley Plaza in Greenvale, N.Y. The stores will carry Vince Camuto footwear, as well as other footwear lines. Currently, Camuto has eight stores in Manhattan (including the Shoe Box stores), and he would like to increase that number to 10 or 12 within the year. He would also like to open stores in key markets outside New York.

“Every one of them has to be a winner, so we’re looking at Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, the Mall at Short Hills, Michigan Avenue and The Grove in Los Angeles,” Camuto said. He declined to give first-year projections for the new store, but said the strategy was to showcase the footwear, handbags and accessories, with a capsule of the sportswear. “Eventually ready-to-wear could become its own store,” he said.

Camuto said the company has been very pleased with the launch of the ready-to-wear, which is produced by Bernard Chaus Inc. “It’s more than positive. It really helped the Chaus business. It’s in over 600 doors, but we’re not looking to blow it out,” said Camuto, preferring instead to have controlled growth. He said he plans to roll out more classifications. “We’ll do more leathers, jackets and pants, and sweaters will become a full line,” he said. Camuto’s offer to help Chaus go private, as reported in September, is still being negotiated.

“The launch went even beyond our expectations,” said Ariel Chaus, vice president of business development at Chaus, in a separate interview. “There’s no better partner than Vince. Retailers have so much respect for him.”

Camuto said he has ambitious plans for VC Signature as well. The VC Signature collection of footwear includes shoes retailing from $195 to $325; booties for $395, and boots from $495 to $595. (In comparison, the Vince Camuto footwear line ranges from $118 to $170 for shoes; $150 to $200 for booties and $200 to $270 for boots.

The company plans to open a totally separate VC Signature store on Madison and 88th Street in Manhattan in March, which will feature footwear and handbags. At present, VC Signature footwear is only available in Nordstrom, Camuto’s own stores and its Web site. The company also intends to launch a VC Signature clothing line.

“We plan to do other categories with VC. We’re branding it in a big way,” said Camuto, noting that they’ll be running more than 25 ad pages for spring in magazines touting the VC Signature collection and will have a slew of social networking initiatives. Swimwear Anywhere said they’ve been discussing a VC Signature swimwear line, as well.

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