NEW YORK — It’s been a good year for Rachel Roy. In April, she opened a sprawling new office and showroom at 58 West 40th Street here. In August, after seven years of exclusivity with Macy’s, her contemporary line Rachel Rachel Roy expanded to include dresses, which opened up wholesale distribution to Lord & Taylor and Von Maur. Most of all, Roy spent 2015 regrouping after a tumultuous 2014, during which her then-10-year-old designer collection shuttered, and her partnership with Jones Apparel Group dissolved along with the company, resulting in a lawsuit.
Roy filed suit against Jones in April 2014 in an effort to stop the company from selling her business to Bluestar Alliance, which she alleged in court documents was done without her consent. She won the first round in May 2014 after a New York State Supreme Court justice granted her a preliminary injunction barring the sale. The case was later settled out of court.
“Luckily, when I first signed my contract [with Jones] in 2006, I knew enough to know that I had to ask for 100 percent creative control,” said Roy. “The judge agreed if you have 100 percent creative control that also means you can choose who to sell your name to.”
Around the same time, Roy moved to Los Angeles full time after 20 years in New York. Things changed. “Everything does happen for a reason,” she said. “I met my partners in California and I don’t know if I would’ve met them had I not moved.”
She was referring to Topson Downs, the California-based company that acquired a majority stake in her business in July 2014. More specifically, Roy’s partners are her president, Denise Johnston, and Daniel Abramovitch, chief executive officer of Rachel Roy and a partner in Topson Downs.
Together, they’ve spent the year gathering momentum for what looks to be a very productive 2016.
First up, Rachel Rachel Roy is launching a plus-size range in February. There are plans to enter the jewelry, swim and home markets, the latter for spring. (RRR missy will remain a Macy’s exclusive.) Roy’s book, “Design Your Life,” is being published by Dey Street Books in March. And in September, she plans to relaunch the Rachel Roy designer collection for a spring 2017 delivery. The vision for her second try at the designer market will remain the same.
“It was created as a need that I had to look the same way at eight in the morning and eight at night,” said Roy of the aesthetic of her high-priced line. “Basically, it’s for working woman. If you’re not working, then it’s for women who have very full lives.”
Comparing her designer and contemporary brands, Roy said, “Rachel Roy is the bigger sister to Rachel Rachel Roy. She is at a point in her career where she can afford that price point. Everything can last in her wardrobe, whereas Rachel Rachel Roy can have more fun with prints and colors and take more chances.”
Rachel Rachel Roy opens at $39 and goes up to $460. The Rachel Roy collection will be positioned in the advanced contemporary neighborhood.
“I have a brand, I have a president, I have partners that have a shared vision,” said Roy of her new setup.
She was introduced to Topson Downs through a mutual friend. On Topson’s end, Rachel Roy is its first acquisition of a branded business. Its portfolio consists of primarily private label brands for its retail partners, mostly in the juniors category and broader contemporary space.
“We wanted to make sure that if we took on this business that we were smart enough to know what we don’t know,” said Abramovitch. “What we didn’t know was how to build a brand. We had to bring in experts to do so, and Rachel obviously is the expert. We knew we needed an industry expert that understood licensing brand building.”
Roy has operated her business under a licensing model. Now, jewelry and home will be designed with outside licenses.
“The difference here,” said Roy, “is that we will have creative control over everything. One hundred percent.”