NEW YORK — Postcard prints of sun-drenched places like the south of France and Hawaii make Lynn Ritchie’s colorful T-shirts conversation starters.
With the resort season kicking in, the better-priced sportswear firm, known for its bright and vivid silk and cotton printed knit tops, is gearing up for what has become a major component of its business.
"The [T-shirts] are packable, not super expensive. You can put it on, wear it out and even wear it to the beach," said Lynn Ritchie, designer and chief executive officer of the 12-year-old namesake firm, at her New York showroom on West 39th Street.
Ritchie started doing a resort collection about four years ago when the company expanded from shipping two seasonal lines a year to five. This year, the resort season is expected to generate the same amount as the other four seasonal collections. Its projections are set at $2 million, while the company’s annual volume is projected at $10 million.
Still, the company has not been immune to price inflation, but Ritchie said she’s been able to maintain her prices. She has achieved this by sourcing her fabrics domestically and in China, the same locales where her products are manufactured. In 2005, more possibilities are expected to open for product development in China as all quotas are lifted.
"It’s very challenging given the competitive environment," said Ritchie, a 37-year industry veteran who used to work for Macy’s as a private label design administrator. "We’re trying to broaden our market base by selling more people. The way we achieve this is by introducing new fabrics and design, and not just doing the same old, same old."
Ritchie said she finds inspiration for prints from sources as diverse as Picasso to tie-dye shirts in Woodstock, N.Y., where she lives. Even her dog Pumpkin, a Terrier that is a spitting image of Toto, has found its way onto T-shirts, as well as marketing materials. For more inspiration, she and others from the company travel to Paris twice a year to shop for trends and color direction, and she regularly visits art galleries looking for new ideas.
"I’ve even copied the old masters of art," she said. "When you’re out there, prints just start popping up all over the place."Because of the economy, Ritchie said she doubts her steady resort business means her customers are actually taking more cruises. Rather, she said, this woman is simply looking for more fun, trend-driven tops and bottoms that can easily pack and go — anytime of the year.
"Many stores today are so homogenized and I don’t get the sense they’re showcasing fashion," said Ritchie, sporting a pair of Roberto Cavalli embroidered pants that have also inspired a print. "But when times are tough, people will always have money to buy that one item and we try to do prints that no one else has."
For resort, the knit-based collection features prints inspired by maps, magazine covers and antique posters, dogs and cats, and new twists on animal prints. In total, there are 140 pieces in the resort collection, which includes bottoms, wholesaling from $24 to $65. Sizes range from XS to XL, or from 2 to 16.
Perhaps because prints and novelty items are enjoying a renaissance in fashion, it seems the Lynn Ritchie business is growing faster than its T-shirts can stretch. Over the last four years, the business has seen consistent 30 percent increases, and last spring, the specialty store-driven company broke into Nordstrom, Parisian and Bloomingdale’s, and most recently secured Macy’s East.
Miya Ota, who owns the boutique Mio in San Francisco, has carried the line for 10 years.
"Her things are very comfortable and her pants are like the most comfortable things to put on," Ota said. "They fit well, they’re well priced and they hold up well."
Ritchie expanded her team this year to include Tracy Geller, director of sales and marketing, to spearhead those initiatives, and Liz Weinmann, vice president of design. Geller formerly ran her own public relations firm called Brave New World, which represented young contemporary clients like Josephine Loka, A. Crispen and Love Amour, while Weinmann previously owned a better sportswear company called En Route.
The company doesn’t do any advertising, but three times a year, it sends a catalog to its specialty and department store accounts.
Luxury handbag resale company @rebagofficial is planning to sell a rare collectible for $70,000: the @hermes White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin. The exclusive Birkin sold for about $100,000 in 2008, when @davidbeckham bought one for his wife @victoriabeckham to add to her collection. Read more about the rare Birkin on WWD.com #wwdaccessories
With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)
@denimdaysfestival, which initially launched in Amsterdam in 2014 and has since expanded to New York, is heading to Nashville for the very first time. The two-day festival, which will take place in November, will feature brand activations, hands-on workshops by artisans and denim mills, a vintage market, live entertainment, and local food and drinks. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Later this month, the popular “Diana: Her Fashion Story” exhibit will be reopening. @historicroyalpalaces, the charity that manages @kensingtonroyal, has been working towards adding new, never-before-seen garments to the exhibit, including this dress created by Gianni Versace for a fund-raising dinner at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago. The exhibit will reopen on April 26 at Kensington Palace @wwdfashion
“Our family has always been engaged and interested in the world around us. [My brothers and I] were always encouraged to have our own opinion at a young age, which is not always something a child is asked — especially to have an opinion with reasoning behind it,” said @yarashahidi on becoming an activist. We caught up with the 18 year old last week, where she talked about her road to acting, how “Black-ish” led her to start conversations about identity and more. Head to WWD.com to read what she had to say #wwdeye (📷: @chelsealaurenla)