LOS ANGELES — Self Esteem’s butterfly is catching air.

The junior resource, owned by All Access Apparel Inc., has launched its Self Esteem Vintage line to a strong reaction.

Created through two-year licensing agreements with five companies — Dubble Bubble, Slinky, Fizzies, BB Bats and Abba Zabba — known for their nostalgia candy and toy properties, the 30-piece collection features raglan T-shirts and baby-doll Ts (some from used clothing stores) with bold and faded screen and foil prints, some dating back to the early 20th century, and appliqués such as rhinestones and glitter.

Examples include T-shirts with prints of the 58-year-old Slinky toy, the Fizzies witch brewing up an instant soda pop with the popular drink tablet that fizzed when placed in water, and Razzles (another Dubble Bubble property) polka-dot looks. Wholesale prices range from $8 to $15, slightly higher than Self Esteem tops at $6 to $10.

“We had a great launch; everybody wanted to do it,” said Richard Clareman, chief executive officer of Self Esteem, known for its butterfly logo.

About 50 accounts picked it up, including junior retailer Vanity, based in Fargo, N.D.; May Department Stores Co., and North Carolina midtier chain Belk Inc. Deliveries begin in November, he said, with first-year sales expectations of $3 million to $5 million. Campbell’s Soup is the next license he seeks for the line.

Hopping on the vintage bandwagon is a fast ticket to extra sales, said observers.

“His timing couldn’t be better,” said Barbara Fields, who owns a junior buying office in Los Angeles. “Graphic shirts are on the rise — we’ve seen the popularity with Mickey Mouse and Twister — and the possibilities are endless for companies. Retailers also like them because they go hand in hand with denim.”

The company is interested in anything that will grow the business, said Clareman, who has come off a successful launch in May of activewear called TomKat, under the sales and design direction of Tom Aiello and Kathleen Solomon, former employees of Body Code. The 50-piece collection is expected to bring in $15 million in its first year.Clareman has also been quietly testing maternity looks at J.C. Penney Co. and Charming Shoppes for the past six months. Printed fashion tops and shirt sweaters with woven cuffs are the key sellers, he said.

To accommodate growth at the $110 million firm, Self Esteem moved to a bigger Los Angeles showroom, nearly tripling the size to 3,400 square feet. On Dec. 1, the firm will open a New York showroom, expanding from 1,800 to 5,000 square feet.

Clareman said part of the firm’s strategy is “turning inventory 16 times a year. We think excess inventory is the kiss of death in this business.”

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