Byline: Natalie Rooney
Anthony Saionz for Cotton Stuff
T-shirts for the rich, that’s how Anthony Saionz describes his collection of designer cotton separates, which should also be described as successful. His two-year-old company, Cotton Stuff, is set to gross $17 million for 1995, after shipping $14 million at retail in 1994. Cotton Stuff, which was built on Saionz’s belief that T-shirts and leggings will never go out of style, offers classic shirts and separates with better detailing. While the design is minimalist, the products, which include tank tops, pants and barn jackets, are detail-driven with an emphasis on fabric weights, color ranges and flawless finishing. “There is a lot of product out there that looks like us, including the casual end of DKNY and Adrienne Vittadini Sport. But we feature a 10-fabric collection while most others are working only in jersey and fleece, and our items all coordinate together, working together to form a solid collection.”
This spring, Cotton Stuff continues strong with knits, offering twinsets of patterned piquA, fine-gage feminine jersey and lightweight poplin. The overall look moves away from oversized bodies, which have flooded the market, to more shapely feminine silhouettes, offering a broader range of end use. “These shirts can be worn anywhere from Telluride to lunch at Tavern on the Green,” says Saionz.
All designs are available in three fabric weights and are garment dyed in a range of 25 colors.
The concept for Cotton Stuff came to Saionz, who was a marketing executive with Leon Max and previously ran sales for the St. Tropez West division of the Carole Little company, when he noticed a void in the market for cotton jersey T-shirts finished without logos and in sophisticated colors. His initial entry into the casual sportswear market came with the launch of a men’s line that attracted a large female following. One of his customers, a buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue, convinced Saionz to design a women’s line.
The collection, which wholesales from $10 for a cotton jersey tank top to $70 for a mixed-media 22-ounce fleece and thermal patched jacket, is available nationally at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bullocks and Macy’s West. It can also be found in specialty stores, including Henry Lehr in New York and Fred Segal in Los Angeles.
“I know that a lot of glamorous women wear my clothes, but that’s not my goal,” says 41-year-old Pamela Barish of her two-year-old, Los Angeles-based designer label. The line, which has been nominated for the Rising Star award for its second year, is favored by Hollywood names such as Roseanna Arquette, Meg Ryan and Laura Dern. Barish, who admits it would be foolish to say that she is the working woman’s best friend, has created a collection that features micro-mini skirts and dresses for spring. “Spring is about shape and body contour,” says Barish of her line. It includes the debut of a sportswear group featuring nine-inch skirts, one-button fitted shirts and jackets in a range of fabrics, including matte jersey, organza, silk shantung and lace. “It’s a sexier interpretation of Mod,” she explains. But the emphasis of her line, as always, lies in her eveningwear, which this season centers on the black cocktail dress. “I like to keep a clean palette and concentrate on the shape. I feel that constructed clothing cuts against the body language of our time. My clothes are sexy and easy and that in itself is a very modern concept,” she says. Barish started in the fashion business in 1972 after selling her first designs to Cher. She then moved to New York, where she designed stage clothes. In 1993, she returned to Los Angeles and started her designer ready-to-wear line. According to Barish, she is both “self-financed and self-taught.”
The Pamela Barish line is available at Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York, Henri Bendel, Charles Gallay, Ron Ross, Fred Segal and Charivari.
It wholesales from $150 for a charmeuse shirt or pair of pants to $500 for a silk gazar or double organza coat. It is expected to gross $2.5 million this year, up from last year’s $1.5 million.