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Chalayan to Launch Casual Line

After a four-year collaboration with Asprey, Hussein Chalayan is focusing on his own brand and will launch a casual women’s line for spring 2005.

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MILAN — Designer Hussein Chalayan, after a four-year collaboration with Asprey, is focusing on his own brand.

In addition to the opening of his first store in Tokyo in April, the designer has confirmed the launch of a new casual women’s line called Chalayan, set to bow for spring-summer 2005 and produced and distributed by Italian manufacturer Gibò Co. SpA.

Chalayan said in an interview that he wants to expand his customer base, as the new line will be priced 40 percent lower than his signature collection. “This is a line in itself, with its own identity, driven by seasonal concepts,” he said. “With it, I address issues I feel are important.”

For spring-summer 2005, Chalayan was inspired by the animal world and the extinction of some species. He created jersey T-shirts with a collage of animals, among which Chalayan inserted white silhouettes shaped to represent extinct animals. The T-shirts may be worn with vests or shirts depicting a crisscross of nets used to capture animals.

Chalayan believes each garment is potentially a future piece of archeology, similar to a vase or a pot recovered from centuries ago. For this reason, close to the label tag, he has inserted another label where the owner of the item can leave a mark and sign his or her name. “This way, you sort of give life to a garment,” he said.

As for the timing of the new line, the designer said there is room for a younger and more casual line. “Fashion today is either gravitating toward very affordable or very expensive clothes, but there is not much in between,” he said, describing the collection as a blend of sportswear and luxurious looks. Chalayan said this line allows him to channel ideas that “don’t fit” into his signature line. “I feel unrestricted and free to experiment,” he said.

Franco Pené, chairman of Gibò, which also produces the designer’s signature line, said, “This is a more commercial collection, where the designer can freely express his creativity. It is in line with his tastes and inspiration, and it is absolutely not a bridge line with poorer materials.”

Although Pené said that U.S. business has picked up, citing 75 percent sales growth of the company’s resort collections this season, he described this moment as generally “difficult” and said that fashion companies must constantly generate new ideas and find new ways to stimulate consumers.

In addition to its own Gibò line and Chalayan’s lines, the company produces and distributes ready-to-wear collections for Viktor & Rolf, Antonio Berardi, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors and Paul Smith, among others. Gibò also makes the new men’s line for John Galliano, launched for spring 2004.

Pené said he plans to reach 200 points of sale in the first season. Wholesale prices in Europe range from $24 to $174.

For spring-summer 2005, the collection includes mini pouf skirts in finely pleated muslin, asymmetrically cut denim jackets and featherlight tank top dresses. The color palette ranges from white, nude, gray and brown to bright pink, green and yellow. Chalayan enjoys playing with juxtapositions of colors and materials, and with clothes that can be multifunctional: A short skirt unfolds into a longer dress; skirts looks like the bottom part of a shirt, and pants come with buttons on the sides so they can be discretionally turned into low- or high-rise pants.

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