Karen Stewart and Howard Brown, the husband-and-wife team who founded the label in 2002, recognized they were missing a sizable market and an opportunity to expand and diversify their line without denim in its product offering.
“We felt like we needed to offer denim to round out the collection and offer more woven bottoms,” said Stewart, who noted the line’s assortment has traditionally been focused on cut-and-sew knits and tops.
They also believed there was an opportunity in the market for a higher-end take on denim with a socially conscious message.
“We took styling cues from [traditional] denim, but it has a more refined and sophisticated appearance,” said Stewart. Details such as heavy contrast stitching, zippers and brass have been lifted from the traditional denim world and incorporated into more refined designs. “We wanted to take it a little more dressed up rather than the casual perspective on denim,” she said.
One of the keys to achieving that upscale look has been the choice of a lightweight fabric they are referring to as a “platinum twill.” The 7-ounce Japanese fabric is made from 100 percent organic cotton the designers had been working with over the years for other items. The fabric’s manufacturing process allows the fiber used to pick up all the dye, which results in clean water after the dyeing process.
The line’s denim offerings will consist of trousers, shorts, skirts, dresses and jackets. Wholesale prices will range from $82 to $138.
Stewart + Brown targets high-end women’s specialty boutiques, and has felt the pangs of the recession as their customers struggled to survive. Many didn’t. Stewart said that prior to the global financial crisis, the line shipped to 350 stores in the U.S. as well as to stores in Europe and Asia. Today, the line is down to 200 doors in the U.S. However, an online store launched two years ago is growing and customers did not flee entirely from the premium prices generally associated with green products.
“You can’t un-ring the bell,” said Stewart, who was introduced to environmental and sustainable issues during a five-and-a-half-year design stint with Patagonia. “Those people that are focused on sustainability and LOHAS [Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability] are not going to change. I don’t think they went back to conventional buying, they were just watching their money for a little while.”
Stewart sees confidence among retailers and customers on the rise, and the increased attention to sustainable practices from mainstream brands and retailers like Nike, Timberland and Walmart has moved the needle on consumer education.
“Our new challenge is there’s a tremendous amount of ‘greenwashing’ going on,” said Stewart, referring to the number of brands claiming to be environmentally friendly but not really being so. “We need to make sure people know we’re a legitimate and authentic company.”
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
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For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)