By  on July 23, 2007

NEW YORK — Steinway & Sons, the venerable piano manufacturer, unveiled plans for its high-end line of formalwear ahead of the launch in early September. Created through a license with the Scarsdale, N.Y.–based R/G Black Tie LLC, the collection consists of four primary tuxedo models, furnishings and accessories.

“Steinway stands for elegant design, handcraftsmanship and personal service,” said Leo Spellman, Steinway’s director of communication, of the collection, which will be among the priciest in the market. “Given people’s appreciation of Steinway, we felt [consumers] would gravitate to a line of Steinway-branded formalwear.”

R/G Black Tie is a partnership between Paul Pannone, president of 1800MyTuxes; George Gatesy, a Polo and Brooks Brothers alum; and Elliot Rittenband, a 40-year licensing and marketing veteran who previously acted as a consultant to Steinway. The Italian Fashion Group, a Milan-based clothing maker, has been tapped to design and manufacture the line.

The entry-level tux, The Celebrity, an off-the-rack, fused garment made from super 110s, will retail for $600. The tux will be made and marketed to music professionals, who don formalwear for most public performances. The garment is equipped with washable, breathable fabric for increased comfort as well as a patented underarm panel that allows for better movement. This model is expected to generate 22 percent of the collection’s total sales.

Next, The Lyre, an off-the-rack, half-canvassed tux with super 120s fabrication, will retail for $1,700. A Lyre tuxedo wth tails will retail for $2,500.

The collection also includes two made-to-measure models. The Maestro, fully canvassed and fashioned from super 130s, will retail between $2,500 and $4,000. The Grand, also fully canvassed, boasts super 160s, hand-sewing and custom tailoring. This tux will retail between $7,500 and $10,000.

All four models are made in Italy from Loro Piana fabrics and Bember linings.

The collection also includes sevenfold ties, machine-made ties, shirts, cummerbunds, shoes by John Lobb and formal jewelry. The company also worked with De Beers to patent a star-cut diamond to be used in a limited-edition set of cufflinks.

No orders have been placed to date, but Rittenband expects the collection to land in high-end department stores, specialty stores, country clubs and Steinway’s 150 piano dealers nationwide. He estimates $1.4 million in sales by the end of 2007 and $3.5 million in 2008. The line will roll out in China, Russia and Western Europe next year.

This is not the first license for the piano maker, which since 2003, its 150th anniversary, has sought out partnerships that would extend and enrich the brand. So far the company pushed further into the music business through Steinway Legends music compilations, produced in association with Universal, and home audio systems. Steinway has also lent its name to lifestyle products, including furniture polish, hearing aids and sportswear. The golf-inspired line, which is also owned and operated by Rittenband, rings up an estimated $1 million in annual sales.

The formalwear collection will have its official debut on Sept. 6 at Steinway Hall in Manhattan.

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