By  on March 24, 2010

Sisters Sharon and Estee Elkayam, founders of the Secrets of Charm line, are branching out of their comfort zone and into the junior market as designers of Cavi’s first women’s line.

Cavi launched in 2004 as a men’s urban apparel company and is sold at retailers such as Macy’s. The brand is seeking to grow from its niche and evolve toward a more refined look in the young women’s market, a company spokeswoman Biba Miliot said.

Cavi founders Phil Gapud, Nathan Krivosheyev and Danny Victor approached the Elkayams last spring and found they all shared a love of well-made, unique clothing.

For Cavi, the sisters have divided responsibilities: Sharon is head designer and Estee oversees merchandising. Sharon Elkayam began her career as a designer for Ralph Lauren’s denim lines, Blue Label and RRL. Estee Elkayam was a wholesale marketer at Calvin Klein and Barbara Bui. In 2005, the sisters launched Secrets of Charm, which features contemporary clothing with a vintage feel. It is available at Steven Alan stores.

Cavi’s first line for women is licensed to Icer Brands LLC, which also holds licenses for Sean John and Apple Bottom. In addition to producing the clothing, Icer handles sales, while Cavi oversees marketing and public relations.

The company intends for the junior line to move urbanwear offerings toward a preppier, “cleaner look,” Sharon Elkayam said. The label hit Macy’s and some specialty stores last month.

The product has evolved from Cavi’s signature “military style” men’s shirt: a button-down with metallic hardware and the Cavi logo on the breast pocket.

“We took the military shirt…and tried to spin that to appeal to a variety of customers,” Sharon Elkayam said.

She has created a collection of button-down shirtdresses, pastel-hued rompers, oversize collared shirts and light, sporty Windbreakers. The line also features separates with a focus on soft T-shirts and tanks and cargo-style and mini shorts. It is united through attention to details, such as belts, buttons and grosgrain ribbon finishes.

Sharon Elkayam cited as inspiration Dsquared’s most recent, camping-inspired collection, and Alexander Wang.

“The references in the design are much more fashion-forward than what you typically see on a juniors floor,” which will appeal to “the girl who is watching ‘Gossip Girl’ [and] Alexa Chung,” Miliot said.

The wholesale price range is from $18 for a jersey tank to $75 for a tailored jacket.

The contrast between owning their own line and developing one with Cavi was most evident from a business angle.

“The biggest difference is probably access,” said Estee Elkayam, who cited the ease with which she has been able to source fabrics and secure manufacturing and retail placement.

Sharon Elkayam said she is designing variations to deliver to stores monthly, including outerwear pieces to be incorporated into the line this fall. The sisters said an accessories component would be “so much fun,” and is not out of the question as the Cavi line evolves.

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