DALLAS — Glen Arthur for Chester, a suede and leather sportswear collection based in Bali, is taking a hands-on approach to build sales.
Almost all production is done manually by Balinese craftsmen, including the label's signature intricate razor-cut suede lace blouses and jackets that have been booking strongly for fall, among other styles.
In business two years, Glen Arthur for Chester is owned by Glen Arthur Beukes and Alison Chester, both of whom live in Bali, where they also operate an orphanage that shelters many children left homeless by the tsunami that struck the region last December. A portion of the label's profits go to the orphanage.
Beukes, a native of South Africa, worked in the New York fashion industry and moved to Bali after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He was inspired to start Glen Arthur for Chester after being intrigued by the leather and suede artisans he discovered in Bali, visualizing a company that focused on handcrafted luxe sportswear and offering trunk shows to personally present the styles to discerning customers.
Beukes and his New York-based sales representative Travis Winberg stopped by the Betty Reiter women's specialty store in Dallas this spring to present the line and rang up almost $100,000 in fall orders in two days, Reiter said.
"Glen is very much on the edge of fashion but offers things that are very wearable and understandable,'' Reiter said. "Women appreciate the details and realize they're getting an investment piece that not everybody is going to have. The company has limited distribution and really focuses on quality."
Trunk show bestsellers included a $1,500 espresso leather safari jacket, a $2,760 black, brown or purple suede lace pantsuit, a $3,285 tan leather pantsuit (sold as separates) with turquoise and Swarovski crystal detail and a $1,600 green leather peacoat, plus lots of ponchos and shawls, which are a signature.
Individual retail prices for the 90-piece fall collection are $200 for a perforated suede shirt to $2,500 for a leather and suede trenchcoat. Glen Arthur for Chester has about 30 accounts across North America, Europe, Asia and the Mideast, including Bergdorf Goodman and Takashamaya, New York; Ultimo, Chicago; Max, Denver; Hirshleifer's, Manhasset, N.Y.; Hugo Nicholson, Toronto; Hattie, Palm Beach, Fla.; Joyce, Hong Kong; Harvey Nichols, London, and Villa Moda, Kuwait.Retail sales this year are projected at $1.7 million to $2 million, said Winberg, who also represents lines such as Angelo Tarlazzi, Georgina Brandolini and Gio Guerreri.
"Business is doubling every season," said Beukes, wearing a cowboy hat, boots and denim jeans. "We can have a turnaround of four to six weeks for orders, which is relatively fast considering the intensive labor involved in our styles. These are looks that can be dressed up or down but always retain the luxe factor, and they can stay in a woman's wardrobe a long time, which makes them a great investment."
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