LOS ANGELES — Linda Loudermilk, who helped pioneer the use of organic cotton and bamboo in the designer category with her "Luxury Eco" movement, envisions an even greener future.
She is growing her seven-year-old Los Angeles-based company by launching new lines for handbags and her first store, as well as men's wear. She also is expanding the firm's executive leadership.
Maggie Finneran, who launched accessories for premium denim brand Rock & Republic and worked at footwear label Taryn Rose International, joined Loudermilk Inc. in April as chief operating officer, and Peter Kerr, a former partner with Deloitte Consulting, became president in February. Both are new positions.
Their top priority is to make Loudermilk Inc. a more marketable business. Next spring, Loudermilk will launch 10 styles of handbags made of vegetable-tanned and naturally dyed leather, fabrics matching the apparel line and other environmentally sustainable materials. Wholesale prices will run from $300 to $900. Also for spring, the company will begin marketing 36 styles of men's apparel that Finneran described as "Thom Browne meets Libertine."
These moves are intended to help Loudermilk's 35-employee company, where the namesake remains chief executive officer, stay ahead of the fashion labels, ranging from Jones New York to Phillip Lim, which are entering the market for sustainable design.
Loudermilk's expansion into accessories and men's wear will follow the launch of the company's flagship, a 5,300-square-foot, two-story eco emporium. After being delayed for more than a year and costing about $2 million, the unit will open in the fourth quarter on Melrose Avenue here, down the street from Paul Smith's store. Among the store's environmentally friendly features is a roof garden sculpture made of solar panels. Other sculptures are made of both plants and synthetic materials and there are skylights galore.
Kerr forecast that Loudermilk will turn a profit in 2008, after quadrupling sales in the last year. Finneran, who declined to comment on specific figures for the privately held company, said Loudermilk has expanded to 100 retailers, including department stores such as Harrods, from a small core of specialty shops such as New York's Atelier. The goal is "to be the next Armani with an eco focus," she said.Loudermilk is slowly gaining converts. Marigay McKee, fashion and beauty director at Harrods, said she and her buyers first checked out Loudermilk in 2004, but didn't think it was ready to be stocked by the London department store. However, last October McKee gave the designer another look at the urging of her friend Daria Myers, the co-founder and global president of the skin and beauty line Origins, and an owner of Loudermilk-designed pajamas.
"There were more pieces in the collection," McKee said, adding that Loudermilk's fabrics also expanded to include corn, among other environmentally sustainable fibers. "We weren't looking for a revolution. We were looking for an evolution of the line."
As the sole British retailer carrying Loudermilk for fall, Harrods will offer what McKee described as "fluid, timeless clothing" in black, gray, cream, navy and denim. Tapping into the demand for organic products, ranging from food and baby clothing to skin care and school uniforms, Harrods is also flirting with the idea of launching a joint marketing program with Origins and Loudermilk, McKee said.
"The woman that is being attracted to this range is looking for timeless luxury," McKee said, noting that Loudermilk's target customer, who is between the ages of 30 and 50, also would shop for classic looks from Jaeger, Burberry, Pringle, Escada and MaxMara. "They don't want to look like something they bought at a farm shop."
To further validate its vision for high-end sustainable design and differentiate itself from competitors that are raising the green banner, Loudermilk is sponsoring a Luxury Eco stamp of approval, which marks products that are sustainable, reusable, recyclable or renewable, and people who advocate such a lifestyle. Among the almost two dozen that have passed the test are Origins' Organics line and Charmoné shoes, as well as model Shalom Harlow.
"It's like the Good Housekeeping stamp for luxury," Finneran said.
Etro’s show, titled “The Tree of Life,” was a celebration of the house’s 50th anniversary. “My father founded the company in 1968, which was the year of counterculture and psychedelia. It’s really a show that celebrates that and the paisley design of India and its origin,” said Veronica Etro. #wwdfashion #mfw #ss18 (📷: @delphineachard)
For @msgm’s spring 2018 show, creative director @massimogiorgetti said “Words, sounds, colors. Synthesis and therapy of a collection,” were the inspirations behind the collection, showing today. Read the rest of Milan spring 2018 inspirations on WWD.com. #mfw #wwdfashion #ss18
For her first solo album in over 10 years, Fergie tapped Carine Roitfeld, Mert and Marcus, Giovanni Bianco and more to create a fashion-focused video approach for the record, Double Dutchess. "Giovanni really helped me get back in touch with my tomboy side, my hardside," said the singer. #wwdeye #wwdfashion ( : @slovekinpics)
“Volumes and Graphic Art of the Nineties are the main inspirations of the new Aquilano.Rimondi SS 2018 collection,” said cocreative directors Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi. #wwdfashion #mfw #ss18