NEW YORK — It’s a new year and a time when fitness pops up on everyone’s resolutions list. No surprise, then, that it is also when new labels flock into the already crowded activewear market. Here, a look at three newcomers hoping to cut a dash in active. Purp7e Agua
Accessories firm Purp7e (pronounced Purple 7) is offering a fresh take on Brazilian swimwear with its new line of bikinis and cover-ups sold under the label Purp7e Agua.
The Venice, Calif.-based firm, the brainchild of the design team of Brazilian native Vera Ribeiro and Andrew Kohler, offers glamorous and glittery looks, most of which have more generous cuts than traditional itsy-bitsy Brazilian swimwear.
“We have incorporated Brazilian styles for the American market,” said Ribeiro, who met Swiss-born Kohler a few years back at an L.A. art exhibit. The duo launched a weave-knit top line two years ago, and named the company after Ribeiro’s favorite color. “We thought swim would be a nice addition to our line.”
The initial swim collection includes five top styles and six bottoms that can be mixed and matched and are available in 25 colors. A number of styles are reversible and some have metallic sequins and prints. Among the silhouettes are low-rise bottoms, HotPants, halter tops, string tops and bottoms and bandeau tops. Cover-up styles include hand-painted sarongs with tropical motifs, as well as caftans and tunics. The pieces are designed in-house but are manufactured in Brazil.
Ribeiro said the collection is designed to feel comfortable and, to that end, Purp7e suits come in a nylon spandex blend.
Most of the tops and bottoms wholesale between $25 and $30, while the sarongs are about $50 and the caftans wholesale for $62.
The swimwear has already been picked up by the Bliss Spa catalogue for spring, and the company is looking for distribution in swimwear specialty shops, high-end department stores and boutiques. In New York, the line will be sold out of the swimwear showroom By The Sea. The duo expect first-year sales of about $1 million
Now that swimwear is getting rolling, Purp7e is also eyeing its next area of growth.“We want to introduce handbags, hats and accessories,” Kohler added. “Our goal is to be a beach lifestyle brand.” Footie Chick
The Footie Chick women’s soccer lifestyle brand has been sold in the U.K. for the last two years, and now the company is looking to make its mark on this side of the pond, said company founder and chief executive officer David Brint.
Footie Chick has signed a deal with California licensing firm BHPC to seek out licenses for women’s sportswear and other products in the U.S., Brint said in a phone interview from his company’s headquarters in Hale, England. Nothing has been signed as of yet, but Brint is in negotiations with a few firms and said he hopes to launch products here for fall.
“According to our research, there are nine million female soccer players in the U.S,” he said. “I am hoping to have 10 percent of them as customers.”
Brint, who was formerly a senior sales executive for Reebok in the U.K., said he envisions a line of products in the U.S. similar to Juicy Couture.
The brand was launched two years ago in Britain and now has wholesale volume of about $10 million, Brint said. Products are made in-house in the U.K., but to expand the brand globally, the company is seeking licenses in different countries. In addition to its expansion goals for the U.S., the company recently signed a deal in Japan to launch in that country, and is also looking to expand into Canada.
As well as the core women’s fashion sportswear line, the company recently launched a performance line of soccer apparel in the U.K. called Footie Chick Technical, which will be sold in the U.S. and will not be licensed.
Footie Chick will be up against Hummel, the Danish company that recently relaunched in the U.S. and sells both fashion and performance soccer apparel. Adidas, Nike and Reebok also sell women’s soccer products.
“I am not sure soccer will ever be as popular for U.S. fans as it is for Europeans,” Brint conceded. “But there are more players here, and there is a lack of brands that cater to female soccer players.” LoyaleFormer ballet dancer Jenny Hwa started designing her own collection because of what she saw as a void for functional yet fashionable activewear.
“My vision for this is a yoga lifestyle brand that can be worn to the gym and also for lounging around and on the street,” said Hwa, who is designing Loyale and selling it out of a studio in New York’s Harlem.
While many activewear firms take their inspiration from the playing field, Hwa said she looks to the runways to gather design ideas. “I pick up a lot of small details from the runway shows,” she noted.
Among the items in her nine-piece debut collection are halter tops and capri pants and shorts, as well as nonworkout pieces such as a robe and an A-line skirt, which Hwa said can be worn “with ease” over workout clothes between gym sessions. Many items have interesting design twists, such as low-rise pants with a wide waistband, and small jacket pockets for a gym ID card or keys.
The products incorporate spandex, organic cotton and surplus fabrics left over from textile mills, said Hwa, who studied business and environmental studies in college before going to graduate school at FIT. Prior to starting Loyale, the 26-year-old worked on the design staff of firms such as Chaiken, Jill Stuart and Catherine Malandrino. She is overseeing Loyale design and sales, and said the company is self-financed.
“I feel strongly about supporting the American economy,” she noted. “I am making everything at a small factory in Manhattan.” She is also donating a portion of her proceeds to Green Corps, a nonprofit group that trains environmental leaders.
Wholesale prices range from $20 for shorts to $68 for the jacket, and Hwa said she hopes to rack up wholesale sales of $1 million by 2007.
The line has already been picked up for spring by stores such as Paragon in Manhattan and some Exhale spa locations, and Hwa is also targeting gyms and specialty stores for a larger fall rollout.
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