Amusing Teens with 9muses

NEW YORK — The men’s private-label apparel manufacturer Oved Apparel aims to inspire junior shoppers with its upcoming fall 2003 line 9Muses.<P>The line is intended to be a female version of the company’s Akademiks young men’s...

NEW YORK — The men’s private-label apparel manufacturer Oved Apparel aims to inspire junior shoppers with its upcoming fall 2003 line 9Muses.

This story first appeared in the May 30, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The line is intended to be a female version of the company’s Akademiks young men’s brand, which it produces in partnership with Elliot Betesh, owner of the specialty chain Dr. Jay’s. Oved and Betesh also collaborate on the junior brand Koperhaus and will work together on the 9Muses line.

“9Muses was created to maintain the already high status of Akademiks,” said Isaac Oved, co-president of Oved Apparel, referring to the three-year old brand.

“This better sportswear collection answers the needs of fashionable 18-to-24-year-olds who crave quality product with a new twist,” said Donwan Harrell, founder of Akademiks and 9Muses, which he also refers to as 9M.Harrell has worked in the fashion arena for 10 years, designing men’s clothing for companies including Robert Stock, Joseph Abboud, Donna Karan, Nike, Mecca USA and Phat Farm. He said he has long intended to cross over into women’s.

“I’ve always wanted to do it, but I wanted to establish my company with men’s first,” he said. “A lot of times, companies do women’s prematurely and it looks like a stepchild to the men’s assortment. I wanted to take my time and put it out the right way.”

The brand name refers to the nine muses of Greek mythology, said Harrell, who noted that the English word normally spelled “academics” comes from a Greek root.

“I wanted something connected to Akademiks, but I didn’t want to use the same name. I wanted it to have its own identity,” he said. “Those who know the story know that the nine muses were goddesses who presided over the arts and sciences. The daughters of Zeus, king of the gods, and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, each possessed a specialty in their goal of education.”

Similar to Akademiks, 9M will have denim as its core.“Our women’s customers will be able to get a complete head-to-toe package with us similar to the way it is for our male customers with Akademiks,” he explained. “We will offer great-fitting jeans. You’ll see really nice enzyme-washed jeans that are hand-brushed with matching bolero blazers.…We’ll offer our customers a full selection of blouses and sweater knits.”

He plans to launch the 60-piece junior collection for fall 2003 retailing and intends to unveil it at the upcoming MAGIC International trade show. The collection will include four groups — Japanese denim, dresses, athletic and casual-leisure looks. Denim offerings will include vintage-inspired styles, including destroyed looks, stretch and hand-brushed fabric, as well as colored denim. The line will also include denim blazers made to coordinate with the jeans, in the same wash, thread color and concept.

Wholesale denim price points are to range from $40 to $75.The dress category is to include denim and silk. The athletic portion of the line will offer nylon styles, while the casual-leisure component of 9Muses will focus on casual tops and bottoms that can be worn for both day and evening. The casual-leisure group will include cashmere, mohair and lamb’s wool. Price points for the other three categories will range from $20 to $150 wholesale.

Logos will be minimal.

“I don’t want to sell the name, I want to sell the clothing,” Harrell said. “Women want people to ask them what they are wearing, while men want to be seen a block a way. It’s about having a hidden mystique.”He plans to pitch the brand to current Akademiks buyers who carry junior clothing, as well as junior better specialty stores and boutiques.

“All of my [customers] have been asking for a junior line from Akademiks,” said Wendy Red, fashion director of Up Against the Wall, a Washington, D.C.-based retailer. “We need another line. Based on what’s happening with their men’s, how can it lose?””