RUSSELL KEMP COURTS MISSES

Byline: Anne D'Innocenzio

NEW YORK--When the junior business began to sour two years ago, Russell Kemp, who had only designed Addiction, then a line of trendy club fashions, knew it was time to switch gears. He branched out with a line bearing his own name and geared it to the misses' customer.
Soon after, however, the parent company--Vertical Apparel--closed. But now, the Russell Kemp line, along with the newly revised Addiction, is back for fall selling.
"I love the misses' market because it is not as fickle," said Kemp, who is also vice president of the newly formed FYI, which is the company that makes the Russell Kemp and Addiction lines. Seth Lawrence, who had been president of Vertical, is now president of FYI, based at 498 Seventh Ave.
The Russell Kemp line, which targets misses' customers from ages 27 to 45, includes two-piece dressing with frog closures; belted brown jackets in high-twist fabrics; retro floral print two-piece dressing, and velvet-trimmed shaped jackets with herringbone pants. The line wholesales from $12 to $15 for pants and $12.50 to $24 for tops and jackets.
Kemp has revised Addictions to be more contemporary, targeting a customer in her 20s instead of her mid-teens.
"When we were in our heyday, the more gold I could put on a garment, the more I sold," said Kemp, who whipped up such fashions as bra tops with HotPants and rayon/acetate jackets trimmed in gold with chiffon sleeves. "Now, all teenagers want are T-shirts and jeans. It definitely has become more casual, and as a designer, I just lost my reason for being." Kemp said that FYI is focusing its efforts on the updated misses' market. The Russell Kemp line, which is also going after the plus-size market, is expected to generate about $10 million in wholesale volume, while Addiction will generate about $5 million to $6 million. Five years ago, it hit $24 million.

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