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NEW YORK — Like many of his contemporaries, Jason Wu is expanding his horizon in light of the tough economic times.
This story first appeared in the December 23, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
For fall, Wu is adding The Exclusives, a capsule collection of core silhouettes that stores can personalize to their needs. Wu also is launching a fur line under license with Saga Furs.
The Exclusives collection is composed of eight pieces: three dresses, two jackets, a knitted cardigan, a knitted T-shirt and a skirt. It will be made available in more than 15 colors and fabrics that stores can secure as their exclusive. The fabric options include seasonless cashmeres and silk.
The designer spent the past few weeks traveling coast-to-coast for trunk shows and meeting store executives, and clientele prompted him to launch The Exclusives.
“I think that, by now, I have really figured the core of the collection,” Wu said. “There are certain silhouettes that, no matter what we show on the runway, we continue to offer off the runway. I started The Exclusives to make it more official, featuring chic dresses, separates and knitwear, which have done well for us on the retail side.”
Wu joins a group of designers in expanding their collections. As reported, Doo.Ri’s Doo-Ri Chung and Tuleh’s Bryan Bradley are working on secondary collections, and Thakoon’s Thakoon Panichgul is launching a capsule collection called Thakoon Addition, inspired by some of the designer’s most popular designs.
“I think people want special things,” Wu said. “My clients are also not stationary. They travel, and shop everywhere. If they go to Los Angeles or Chicago, for instance, it’s nice for them to see different things. It’s also a better way to work with our retailers. In this economic climate, it’s important to zero in on what our clients want.”
The Exclusives line wholesales from $390 to $780. Deliveries are slated for mid-June, and the items will sit alongside Wu’s main fall collection. Each item will feature a second label marking it as a store exclusive.
“As the collection grows, the runway shows start to become more directional,” Wu explained. “This way, there will always be our bestseller pieces in the showroom. It will allow me to become more experimental, and then to take, perhaps, a color or print from the runway and make it in a silhouette that we know sells well.”
For fall 2009, Wu, with Saga Furs, will incorporate fur — mainly minks — into his collection. He had dabbled in fur pieces before, but now wants to take a more official approach. “We wanted to do a 15-piece fur collection that isn’t just about fur coats, but also fur pieces that blend in with the collection,” he said. “It will be fur garments mixed with fabric. In certain stores, they would hang with clothes, and in bigger department stores, they could hang in the fur departments.”
Wu launched his business in February 2006. Since then, he has expanded his distribution to more than 30 retailers, including Bergdorf Goodman, Net-a-porter.com, Jeffrey in New York and Atlanta, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Ikram in Chicago, Halls in Kansas City and Louis of Boston.
He recently beefed up his team, hiring Gustavo Rangel as chief financial officer, who was previously a member of Saks Fifth Avenue’s retail team; John William Murphy as sales director, who was at Ports 1961 as a merchandising and sales consultant, and Jeny Lee as design assistant, who was a designer at 6119.
For the next few weeks, Wu will focus his attention on putting together the fall 2009 line, which he will present on Feb. 13 at Exit Art. “It will be my biggest collection yet,” he said.