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Reyes Graduates to Young Designer for Fall

Jose Ramon Reyes is moving up in more ways than one.

NEW YORK — José Ramón Reyes is moving up in more ways than one.

This story first appeared in the February 1, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

When the designer presents his fall Réyes collection at Industria Superstudios on Sunday, he will be showing a repositioned line — a notch up from contemporary, where he has tried to make a name for himself in the past two years, to young designer. He will do so by adding more luxurious fabrics and details, an eveningwear segment and, as a result, price points that are 30 percent higher than his previous incarnation.

Reyes cited several reasons for the transition to young designer. He said he manufactures out of New York, and his design process, including research trips to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and sensibility are more akin to the designer arena anyway. “Prices were already a notch above contemporary and too high for the floor we were in,” he said.

Wholesale prices used to range from $80 to $800, but will now be in the vicinity of $150 to $1,800. The line seeks to position itself near the likes of Stella McCartney and Miu Miu. “The collection has always been rooted in American sportswear,” Reyes said. “It will still be that, but we will be using more luxurious touches with intricate details.”

For fall, the new Réyes will offer an extended knitwear assortment with a wider palette of stitches, embroidery from India, prints developed with Italian textile company Ratti and fur trim details on outerwear, including raccoon.

“I see young designer as the category with much potential for growth,” Reyes, a recipient of this year’s Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award, said. “The contemporary customer is a customer who looks for things to wear on the spot. She is not necessarily too concerned with the quality but more with the look.”

The company also just moved uptown. After years of working out of his apartment on lower Fifth Avenue and wholesaling the collection out of the Fifty-Two showroom in TriBeCa, the Dominican designer decided to take wholesale in-house and recently opened a 2,000-square-foot office and showroom at 215 West 40th Street.

Réyes, which is available at Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and a slew of specialty stores, currently has wholesale volume of $1 million. The designer is now aiming to add retail accounts globally. To that end, he entered a partnership with Japanese sales showroom Brand News K.K., with hopes to grow his business across Asia.

To support the activity, the designer tapped Ellen Copeman as the head of global sales from Chloé, where she was general manager for the brand’s North American business. Copeman will be based out of the new office and showroom space, and oversee global sales and distribution.