NEW YORK — If making it in the biggest U.S. city is a measure of success in the fashion industry, then count Carlos Miele in.
The Brazilian designer is poised to launch his secondary line, Miele by Carlos Miele, in 14 Saks Fifth Avenue locations in January. His main collection bowed at Saks two years ago and is now also sold at Neiman Marcus and at specialty boutiques.
Miele, who plans to make New York his base, is putting the finishing touches on his new residence in the Porter House on Ninth Avenue and 15th Street. From his private roof garden, he can look out onto West 14th Street and see his flagship.
"New York is the most international city," he said. "It's a great window to America and the rest of the world."
Miele's business is projected to do $130 million in sales this year and he's ready to take the business to the next level.
"I'm selling to more countries," he said. "Once I get to a certain size I can start an advertising campaign. Then you're really in the game. I need to do more volume."
Miele's vehicle for growing volume is the secondary line, which is estimated to do sales of $25 million to $30 million in the U.S. next year.
"I've been selling the secondary line successfully in Brazil for some time," Miele said, sitting on a bright red felt chair in his apartment across from a signed Isamu Noguchi coffee table. "It's a natural way for me to reach more people and grow the business. It will be easier to expand in the U.S. with the secondary line. There are a lot of cities where I could open stores."
Miele is known for sexy dresses and gowns, which are priced from $3,000, and are often decorated with crochet, beading and fuxico, a Brazilian technique for fabric decoration. Price points for the secondary line range from $150 to $250 for denim to $500 for dresses. Hand-knits and crocheted sweaters are $250 to $350.
In November, Miele will open the first store dedicated to the secondary line in the Leblon section of Rio de Janeiro. "It's going to be a lab," he said.Miele said he's now converting his store in São Paulo's Jardins district to a Miele by Carlos Miele unit. There are 10 more secondary units planned for Brazil. He'll transport the retail concept to New York next year and a runway show for the collection is planned for next spring.
The idea of selling the secondary line in the U.S. came from Joseph Boitano, Saks' senior vice president and general merchandise manager of women's and children's. "He saw a great opportunity," Miele said, noting that the secondary line features lots of prints and color and translates the sexy, romantic qualities of the primary collection for a younger customer.
As Miele establishes himself in New York, he's also raising his profile in Europe. A store in Paris at 380 Rue Saint-Honoré, is opening in February and will be followed by a flagship in London next year. Miele is launching a showroom in Paris for the secondary line. In Brazil, he's opening the biggest Carlos Miele store, a two-level 8,000-square-foot unit in a new mall being built in São Paolo. One floor will be dedicated to the collection and the other to the secondary line.
"Next year, I'll launch a men's line," he said. "Everything is about getting more volume." Once men's is established, he said he'll tackle accessories and fragrance.
Miele said he won't over-expose himself. "People should know you for your product. When you have too much image you have to keep your image popular. It's too high a price. I don't think it's healthy."
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