August Silk and Andrew Grossman have joined to launch Asara, a better-priced separates line, for spring.
Grossman, the co-founder and chief executive officer of GAV, has used August Silk's parent company, High Fashion International, for years to supply GAV's Emanuel Ungaro line and formerly the Calvin Klein better and bridge lines. Now he's taking the partnership to the next level.
"We've always had a successful collaboration with High Fashion, and when you make money with someone, you continue doing business with them," Grossman said.
The agreement is similar to GAV's with Kellwood Co. and Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. for the Calvin Klein derivative lines. High Fashion owns the line, and GAV does the design, merchandising and sales.
Grossman said he learned lessons from the Calvin Klein white label deal, which did $72 million in volume its first year in 2004, but has since hit hard times at retail. GAV sold the business back to Kellwood for the fall 2006 season. "We overbooked and shipped at a terrible time," Grossman said. "Shrinking a business is a terrible thing to go through for profitability."
So for Asara — which comes from the initials of August Silk "AS" combined with "Ara," a woman's name that means "to alter" in Latin and "rainmaker" in Arabic — the goal is to start small, though Grossman declined to project volume. The first collection, which wholesales from $18 for a T-shirt to $89 for a jacket, is targeted to major department store chains.
"We're not looking to be huge — we're looking to be successful, which means making the fastest turns and producing the best product, which High Fashion can do," Grossman said. "A lot of the infrastructure and synergy already exists, so we don't need to invest in things like new showrooms."
The debut spring collection includes tops, sweaters, jackets and dresses, in linens, cottons, silks and blends. Although the production and design teams are the same as for Robin Howe — a similarly priced line launched last spring by High Fashion and named after the designer, who is Grossman's wife — Asara is "more market-driven, trend-driven and store-driven, while Robin's line is her own ideas of how the world should be," Grossman said. Both lines show in the August Silk showroom at 499 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan.New York-based marketing agency Pulse Creative LLC is working on creating streaming videos to play on flat-screen TVs it hopes retailers will place with Asara product. GAV sells lines such as an Emanuel Ungaro diffusion line, Argyle and Miss Tina on HSN, which is run by Grossman's sister-in-law, Mindy Grossman, and the TV footage idea stemmed from the success of that business, he said. "We want to spend our marketing dollars at point of sale," Grossman said. "We would put on anything that is informative, to show customers why and how they should wear our products."
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