IN THE BAG: No stranger to Seventh Avenue, Jody Stuart, whose sister Jill is widely known for her signature sportswear, has introduced a line of yoga bags.
The collection is distributed by InJoy under its label and produced by Inca by Stephanie Hirsch in overseas factories in places like India and China. Instead of solid nylon bags, Stuart serves up functional, playful styles in florals, stripes, Hawaiian prints and ethnic-inspired styles. Given Hirsch’s panache for decorated accessories, it’s no surprise that Stuart is going forward with embroidered, handbeaded and velvet styles. Bags wholesale from $22 to $33 and have special features such as interior pockets and cellphone holders.
InJoy yoga bags are sold at about 20 yoga studios in New York, as well as a few in Pennsylvania and Los Angeles. Stuart, who used to design her sister’s handbag line and has worked for firms like Ann Taylor and Bonjour, is now going after specialty stores beyond the yoga world and plans to launch an online store in the next two months. She will also send out a direct-mail piece to at least 1,200 yoga fans this fall. There are also plans to pursue mail-order businesses and even food stores that specialize in wellness products.
DONNA’S SPA TREATMENT: Donna Karan has long liked things ethereal, but now she is introducing her first spa collection. Called Body Spa, the line was scheduled to be unveiled Wednesday night at a press event at the designer’s collection store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.
There are two groups: rejuvenation — body-hugging items geared toward working out, and meditation — relaxed looks like T-shirts imprinted with inspirational sayings. Both groups are designed to double as streetwear.
Karan said, “Body spa was born of my passion for spa escapes, be it the ones I travel to or the ones I create at home. To me, spa life is a union of the senses and soul — breathing deeply, taking time for yourself and treating your body well inside and out. Spa life is multi-dimensional.”
This fall, Body Spa will be sold exclusively in New York at Saks Fifth Avenue, and a select number of other stores will offer it elsewhere. It will be offered to more retailers next year, a Donna Karan spokeswoman said.
HOWELL JOINS COLUMBIA: Columbia Sportswear has named Ed Howell as president of its Sorel division. He will join the company in September, managing Sorel’s outdoor apparel and footwear and serving on Columbia’s executive management team.
Until last week, Howell was the chief executive officer of Eastern Mountain Sports, an 83-unit outdoor specialty chain with headquarters in Peterborough, N.H. EMS has not yet named a successor, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.
GETTING ACTIVE: During a trend presentation at Promostyl’s New York offices Tuesday, Britt Bivens, account manager, said the influence of activewear should continue to seep into the sportswear market for the upcoming fall and winter seasons.
Bright topstitching, zippers used in more artistic ways and activewear fabrics softened for the sportswear market should be among the key athletic influences. With people still enjoying yoga and meditation, those activities lend themselves to washed-out pastels, misty taupes and grays.
Martial arts-inspired looks will also be evident in layered outfits. An example of these types of “urban kimonos” could be a lightweight wool dress worn over pants and belted like a judo belt, Bivens said.
Bivens also expects a renewed interest in authenticity, but not the manufactured kind that has been prevalent in marketing campaigns for years. She’s counting on vintage, recycled and more understated items that have a story behind them to be important.
Yohji Yamamoto’s partnership with Adidas is a perfect example of how a designer’s touch can make an ordinary product look unusual and fun, Bivens said.
On the retail front, there should be a move to more of an insider’s view, as seen at Selfridges in London, where shoppers can catch a glimpse of employees doing alterations in a workroom, when they are en route to the restroom. Several auto makers have been successful in devoting part of their showroom space to exposed work areas and museums, Bivens said.
“This will become more important to retailers. It allows customers to be an insider even if for only a few minutes,” she said.