NEW YORK — James Perse, who gave the lowly T-shirt fashion status with his line of body-skimming tops, has a lot more up his cotton jersey sleeve.
Perse is expanding his product line to include beachwear, outerwear and even evening wear, all interpreted with his signature soft hand and easygoing attitude. He’s also opening two stores in the spring: a 1,000-square-foot boutique at 411 Bleecker Street, and an 800-square-foot shop at the Country Mart in Malibu.
While Perse’s sexy T’s have propelled his company’s growth and earned Perse the title of T-shirt King, the collection has evolved to include coats, dresses, skirts, pants and sweaters. There’s even a new suiting collection — military-inspired shirt jackets — but they’ll be made of soft, washed garment-died fabrics.
The new product categories will be rolled out in the fall to about 200 department and specialty store doors worldwide. Meanwhile, a full line of accessories, including handbags and shoes is in the works.
In Malibu, Perse is bringing his sensibility to the surf lifestyle. “I ultimately want to create a special idea and special product line,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of exclusive pieces carried only in that store.”
The designer studied Manhattan neighborhoods before settling on Bleecker Street in the West Village. Sales at the store are expected to be $2,000 per square foot. Perse acknowledged that the estimate is high, but said it’s in line with volume at his 18-month-old Melrose Avenue flagship.
Since being discovered by big name designers such as Marc Jacobs, who has three stores, and Ralph Lauren, who has two, rents on Bleecker Street have risen from the $80 to $120 per square foot range to $200 per square foot, according to real estate brokers. Lauren is said to be seeking more space. Stetson is opening a store selling fashion hats, silver jewelry and leather wear at 387 Bleecker in the former Four Paws Club, and Abercrombie & Fitch is reportedly scouting for space for Ruehl, its new retail concept.
“Bleecker Street has a boutique mentality,” Perse said. “I want my store to be in a neighborhood environment. The West Village couldn’t be more perfect. My customer lives there and there’s an incredible amount of traffic.”“In general downtown has shied away from chain stores,” said Christopher Owles, of Sinvin Realty Corp., who represented Perse. “This is right in the heart of the West Village counterculture. It’s one thing to see stores start to go upscale, but chains are a harder thing for the neighborhood to swallow. It’s really an area where you have individual real estate owners that care.”
“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