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.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye