Cult Gaia, the whimsical L.A. accessories firm that’s gained a following for its bamboo handbags, is expanding into ready-to-wear.For fall, the brand will launch a contemporary collection that is being shown to retailers this week in New York. The line is manufactured entirely in Los Angeles. Although the brand has dabbled in apparel in the past, it's the first time it is wholesaling a rtw collection.Jasmin Larian, Cult Gaia's founder, owner and designer, explained that she wanted to launch apparel because she had been making her own clothes and thought it would give "a holistic image" to her brand. Her goal is to create “seasonless clothes for women to wear over and over again," she said."I don’t want people to think twice [about buying them]. It’s a feeling of something they have to have,” she said.Among the key pieces are white cotton wrap pajama pants; viscose/cotton cropped sweaters; turtleneck bodysuits; white stretch denim wrap mini-skirts; cashmere blend off-the-shoulder sweater dresses; camel wool double cloth tieback jumpsuits, and silk jersey criss-cross gowns.“It’s young, but elevated and super sexy,” said Larian, who graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology and interned at Jason Wu and Narciso Rodriguez. There are also subtle details, such as a simple chain link across a bare back. The collection wholesales from $110 to $350.Larian said she set out to design clothing that works with her statement bags. The clothes are sized from extra small to large. They will be selectively available at retailers such as Moda Operandi and Steven Alan. “I don’t want to be oversaturated,” she said.Larian started her company six years ago, but her handbag wholesale business really took off about two years ago. She began making accessories, such as the bamboo handbags, hair ornaments and bracelets that are worn by celebrities including Lupita Nyong'o, Kendall Jenner and Chrissy Teigen. The business has grown over 1,000 percent in the past month. "January sales were the highest ever," said Larian.The popular bamboo bags, manufactured in China, are sold at upscale retailers such as Net-a-porter, Need Supply, Steven Alan, Five Story and Forty Five Ten. She also sells her handbags on her web site and will add rtw in June/July.“Having an online option is great for the business. In order for a brand to succeed, you have to have cash flow and get cash immediately. You don’t have terms and that helps keep a business afloat,” she said.Larian said she’s managed her accessories business without ever having to show formally. It all happened via e-mail, Instagram, Facebook and word of mouth. She currently employs six people who work in her L.A. office.This year, Larian expects to generate $3 million in sales throughout the company.
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