Don’t expect Riley’s new denim line, shipping to retailers this month, to veer into streetwear anytime soon.
Riley, the casual contemporary label known for its hybrids of vintage and modern fashions, signed designer Carl Jones as the line’s licensee and manufacturer earlier this year. But Jones, whose roots are deep in streetwear and hip-hop — he worked on labels including Jones Juke Joint and Cross Colours— said he’s taking his cues from Riley’s quirky sensibilities.
“I’ve been able to adapt to whatever is the fashion,” said the designer, whose firm is called Vintage Jean Labs. “What I’m doing isn’t too hard. I’m just emulating what Riley does.”
The collection includes pieces like a stretch-velvet fitted blazer with a Victorian, rocker-glam vibe and sewn-on denim strips and pockets. Another piece, which invokes the spirit of a geisha girl, is a long, denim skirt blocked with Asian character prints. A matching kimono-sleeved jacket has frog-ear buttons and a backside screen print. Western inspiration led to hand-sprayed twill pants with denim thigh patches.
Wholesale prices range from about $68 for jeans to $180 for a jacket.
Riley’s women’s denim line ships this month to about 250 of the brand’s existing 1,300 accounts, with first-year sales expected to reach $1 million. Riley owners and brothers Derek and Greg Banton also are seeking Canadian and Australian distribution.
“We want to make Riley a lifestyle product, something a woman can wear wherever she wants,” said Derek Banton, chief financial officer of Vernon, Calif.-based Born Again Clothing, a vintage clothing seller, which owns the Riley name.
The main Riley brand continues to evolve, with sales reaching $20 million this year. Footwear debuted in 2002 and handbags are launching for holiday with crackled leather totes and tattoo-print coin purses.
As one might expect at a company that trades in vintage goods, Banton’s office features a hoard of relics, including golf bric-a-brac, hunting trophies (including a head of a Gemsbok antelope) and rock-band screen prints cut from Eighties denim jackets.
The company’s fabric archives are kept at its 25,000-square-foot headquarters in Vernon, outside Los Angeles, where there are bales of graded used clothing piled as high as 20 feet.Jeanine Mark designs the main Riley line.
At its peak in the early Nineties, Born Again had about 1,000 accounts, but business dried up to about 200 buyers as retailers and consumers grew more savvy about vintage clothing. Banton, a Zimbabwean expatriate who sold car stereos and imported belt buckles, turned his attention to the Riley brand in 1999, first in children’s clothing and later adding men’s and women’s lines.
The main line includes simple items like sweatshirts, made fashionable with sewn-on vintage silk scarves.
It’s a look that has earned retailer support, among them, Fred Levine, co-owner of the Agoura Hills, Calif.-based chain of M. Frederic stores.
“They’re consistently coming up with exciting novelty product and people try to copy them and they do it poorly,” said Levine, who has sold Riley since its inception and plans to carry the denim line.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast