NEW YORK — The deal has been signed and Coogi, the brand known for its signature multicolor knits, is ready for an active year ahead under its new owners.
Last month, the 33-year-old label was purchased by Norman and Bruce Weisfeld, investors in Fubu and Willie Esco, and Jimmy Khezrie, owner of the Jimmy Jazz retail chain. Now, the team of owners has big plans for the label that’s found a place among the urban crowd.
The partners, who wrestled Coogi from the Australian equivalent of bankruptcy, plan to revamp the brand and bring it back to its roots as a designer lifestyle label. Their aggressive plans are to reach $150 million in volume by the end of its first full year at retail.
Bernt Ullmann, global brand manager, said the trick is to upgrade the line, while not forgetting the urban customer.
"We will be urban the way that Gucci and Louis Vuitton are urban," Ullmann said. "We are not dissing urban at all here. We would be wrong to do that since urban is what the owners do so well. What we plan to do with Coogi is add to the urban part of it and elevate it to a higher level and I think that is very consistent with what the traditional urban customer looks for."
Ullmann said the firm wants to capitalize on its signature colorful knits by having a piece of it on every garment. For example, it may appear as the lining of a raincoat or on the cuffs of a shirt. Also, the company plans to launch a variety of products and collections next year. Ullmann wouldn’t reveal too many details, but he said the firm is in negotiations with a "well-known Milan designer" to design the new collections, which will be broken up into three lines.
A high-end line is set to be launched for fall retailing that targets upscale specialty stores. It will wholesale for $125 and up. A diffusion line, which Ullmann said will be much more accessible for its current customer base, will be ripe for licensing opportunities in areas such as footwear, children’s wear, accessories, fragrances, legwear, personal care products and a home line. Ullmann said the line will most likely be called Coogi Jeans or Coogi Sport. Also, it will launch a resort collection that reflects the Australian beach lifestyle to include swimwear, tennis outfits and golf gear.The company signed a lease last week for a showroom on the 20th floor of 745 Fifth Avenue in New York, in a 4,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Hermès. It also has an aggressive retail rollout plan. Ullmann said the company is scheduled to open a Manhattan flagship store in SoHo in 2004, which would be its first retail unit, as well as plans for 10 freestanding stores every year for the next several years.
Coogi plans to build brand awareness with a full advertising and product-placement campaign when the timing is right. Ullmann said that while the brand started with men’s wear, he is confident that Coogi women’s wear has the potential to outperform the men’s collections. While Australia is still an important home market, he expects the U.S. to eventually account for 50 percent of the global sales.
"We have deep pockets and are ready to fully support this brand," Ullmann said. "All plans are in development: retail, licensing, design. We are feeling very positive about the strength of this brand so we are ready to come full force."
“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