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LOS ANGELES — When it comes to timing, Kik Wear Industries likes to zig while others zag.
This story first appeared in the July 24, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Los Angeles-based young men’s and junior resource launched in 1991 amid the turmoil of the Persian Gulf War. Now it’s entering the contemporary market with Glitz, launched in April during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“We like launching in a tricky environment. It’s the best time because you can only go up from there,” said Alex Berenson, Kik Wear’s president and co-founder.
On track to hit $12.5 million in sales this year, the firm has been boosted by the strength of Kik Girl, selling at junior retailers such as Hot Topic and Pacific Sunwear, which has moved away from its raver roots to a more feminine silhouette.
Buoyed by the sales momentum, Berenson also believes it wouldn’t hurt to offer retailers a pleasant distraction to the grim economic news. Retailers ordering Glitz said they appreciated the fuchsia, burnt orange and other robust shades that are a hallmark of the vintage-inspired, 15-piece fall collection featuring denim and corduroy pants, miniskirts, cardigans and cropped jackets.
“I really like the colors and the contrast pipings,” said Sylvia Brownlee, co-owner of the five-month-old Cincinnati boutique La Monae. “It’s very cheery.”
The upbeat feeling of the line likely stems from Liza Gutierrez, who is doing double-duty as the designer of Glitz and the harder-edged, eight-year-old Kik Girl. So far, styles in neutrals black, gray and white are a no-no at Glitz.
“Maybe we’ll allow off-black or a beige instead of a pure white, but either people will get it or they won’t,” said Gutierrez, who once designed for JNCO. “It’s a lot of work, but I’m living my dream and I want it to show.”
For inspiration as well as to mentally and physically divide the jobs, she devotes one office wall to magazine cut-outs of skater chicks, punk-styled straps and D-rings, and the other to fabric swatches and hanging vintage handbags — a dozen of them from clutches to ovals to metal-cased boxes. An owner of a 1961 Buick Invicta, Gutierrez is a vintage hound who’s a monthly regular at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena. She even attended the July Hootenanny music and car fest in Fullerton headlined by the Stray Cats.
“I love everything nostalgic — old cars, fancy bags, fancy shoes,” she said.
She weaves her retro appreciation into the line. A demure, cropped cardigan sweater with a Peter Pan collar pairs with a denim skirt with oversized pockets, or large black-and-white target buttons dot the waistband and double-flap back pockets on corduroy bottoms match with fitted cut and sew sweaters. Corduroy is a core fabric in the collection in velvety minis with chunky zippers, double-loop pants and fitted jackets with thick waistbands.
Denim comprises 25 percent of the line. Denim trousers have emerged as a staple with looser-fit, flat-front and straight-leg silhouettes, while straight-leg pants with front and back leg seams and front welt pockets are another retailer favorite.
“The pants really struck us,” said Maclaine Soto, buyer at Riley James in San Francisco. “We already carry denim lines, but it was worth it to us to carry Glitz. We’re also really particular about corduroy, and liked the fit and texture of the pants.”
Wholesale prices range from $37 to $48 for tops and $54 to $79 for bottoms. The locally made line ships next month and Berenson expects Glitz to generate $1 million in first-year sales.
He said the decision to disassociate the line from Kik Girl was deliberate. “It’s a completely separate entity, from separate shipping tape to isolated invoices, so there will be no confusion about the brands whatsoever,” he said.
But the Kik Wear name and reputation has only helped in cultivating new retail business. So far, about 25 accounts have placed orders for Glitz, including key California shops Sharon Segal in Santa Monica, Lisa Kline in Los Angeles and Bryan Lee in Santa Barbara.