With her year-old jean label, K. Roque, Karen Roque hopes to put San Diego on the premium denim map.
Focusing on tailored denim that can be worn at the office, Roque and her 37-member staff design and manufacture all their garments in San Diego — 120 miles south of the denim hub in Los Angeles.
With wholesale prices ranging from $65 to $90, K. Roque aims to quadruple wholesale sales to $4 million this year, from less than $1 million last year, by broadening distribution to high-end department stores and national chains from the current roster of 40 specialty retailers such as Madison in Los Angeles and The Denim Bar in New York. The accounts she's targeting include Barneys New York, Henri Bendel, Neiman Marcus and Intermix.
Roque also ramped up the number of styles for this spring to 32 from the 20 she offered in her debut collection. Acknowledging that success in the saturated denim market is predicated on offering more than a five-pocket jean, she cut denim weighing 7 oz. into a racer-back sundress as well as trousers with a 23-inch leg opening. Next fall, she plans to craft denim woven with silver thread into a jacket with three-quarter sleeves and skirts.
"I don't think manufacturers have evolved and kept up with what the fabric has to offer," Roque said.
Roque, 38, is already a veteran in apparel manufacturing. Her mother owned a clothing factory and Roque began making her own outfits at the age of eight. After studying design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, she joined a swimwear company. Within four years, she was promoted from quality control to product design engineer, and then product development manager. She eventually became a private label manufacturer, codesigning swimwear and technical activewear for brands such as DKNY, Aaron Chang and RLX Ralph Lauren.
Though K. Roque is her first foray in the denim market, Roque has enough manufacturing experience to try to differentiate her product from competitors'. For instance, she varies her washes to ease the fabric's draping and prints sublimated artwork on the lining of the waistband and pockets.
"I wanted to take it to a different level," Roque said. "The consumer has not seen [denim] in a different avenue and the beauty of what the fabric has to offer."
Exclusive: @britneyspears is continuing to expand her brand. The pop icon, who appears in @kenzo ’s latest campaign, is partnering with Epic Rights to launch a line of branded merchandise. Read @hernameislex ‘s story, link in bio. #wwdnews #britneyspears
The Duchess of Cambridge channeled Princess Diana’s look upon giving birth to Prince Harry, when she and the Duke of Cambridge departed the hospital with the new baby Prince this afternoon in London. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge
The new Prince of Cambridge has arrived! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posed with the 8-pound newborn. She wore a look from one of her go-to designers, @jennypackham. Tap link in bio for more. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge
Jewelry label @alisonlou has made a name for itself with fine jewelry that speaks to the Millennial market. Now @twallz21 reports that the label is bringing those playful ideas to a new affordable line of lucite hoops with the launch of Loucite by Alison Lou. Here’s a look from the line modeled by @emrata. #wwdaccessories
@sarahjessicaparker and @gilt are teaming up on a bridal ready-to-wear line. Tomorrow, Parker will launch SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Bridal — and as part of the launch, Gilt will offer 15 exclusive styles from the SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker footwear collection that were designed to complement the new line. Made out of 10 styles, the line is designed for a variety of occasions, from bridal showers to receptions. Get more details on WWD.com #wwdfashion
A grooming moment between @tanfrance and @antoni last night at the The LGBT Community Center Trailblazer Awards honoring Anna Wintour, Ricky Martin and more. See more photos at WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
“It was a very surreal feeling. It wasn’t like we were in the studio together coming up with it — it’s more like he discovered it and loved it. I didn’t let myself get my hopes up, but then it happened it was very exciting,” said singer-songwriter @nombe on discovering that @pharrell would be using his song, “Cant Catch Me” on his HBO documentary series “Outpost.” The German-born singer — named Noah MacBeth — talked to WWD about feminism, using art as a platform for political expression and personal style. Read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
This season, denim is going west – in influence. Brands like @fathersdaughterla (pictured here), @tommyhilfiger Jeans, @levis and more are opting for raw, top-stitching styles. (Styled by @thealexbadia; 📷: @ryanplett)