While consumers continue to hold back on shopping, apparel brands are launching lines in the hopes of luring them back into stores.
Some collections are geared for specific needs, such as Cachet’s new NV Couture prom dresses and Henrietta Pertuz’s petite collection. Others, like Dorothy Lanier’s Pope collection, have a philanthropic tie-in. But all of six companies forging ahead with new collections insist now is not the time for meekness.
“We feel this is a time for our brand to stand out when everyone else is running scared,” said Freddie Stollmack, president and chief executive officer of the Weatherproof Garment Co.
The first 32 Degrees women’s collection of performance-oriented outerwear will debut for fall 2010. With wholesale prices in the $40 to $75 range, Stollmack said he expects the line to appeal to shoppers’ newfound frugality or simplicite volontaire, as the French call it. “Now it’s very hip to get a great value and to say to a friend, ‘Hey, what do you think I paid for this?’ as opposed to buying a very expensive luxury product,” Stollmack said.
The company is also making the most of the “advantageous media rates” being offered to advertisers and has tripled its media buy for next year, he said. The 32 Degrees women’s line will be shown at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in January, and the company aims to generate more than $15 million in first-year wholesale volume, Stollmack said.
Another outerwear maker, The Levy Group, has signed with Hilary Radley to manufacture and distribute her signature label and diffusion collection, Hilary Radley New York. The first collection is set for fall 2010 and will be unveiled in a new showroom at The Levy Group’s headquarters at 512 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan.
For 18 years, Radley has licensed her outerwear through the Utex Fashion Group, but that agreement expires in the spring. Radley said the decision to part ways was mutual, amicable and “had just run its course.” With the Levy Group, Radley said she is eager to develop “more exciting products, such as back-to-my-roots classics done in a very 2015 way.”
Coats and jackets that combine precious fibers and technical fabrics will be part of the assortment. She also is considering delving into fur and shearling outerwear. Her signature collection wholesales from $200 to $400, and Hilary Radley New York is in the $150 to $200 range.
Levy Group’s president and ceo Donald Levy said, “There’s no better time to take on new collaborations than when conditions are challenging….We feel that Hilary’s point of view will be a great addition to our stable of high-profile brands — she’s a perfect ambassador for her collection and has such a loyal following. With our sourcing and production capabilities, we think we can really grow the business.”
The Old Farmer’s Almanac is calling for a cold winter, but G-III Apparel Group Ltd., largely known for its outerwear, has a few options in place should that not be the case. Through its licensing deal with Andrew Marc, the company has already introduced Marc New York dresses, and Andrew Marc dresses will be unveiled for spring. Marc New York is aimed at department stores and wholesales from $59 to $89. The Andrew Marc line will be more specialty store based and will be priced from $89 to $190.
Well aware of the business climate, the company will take measured steps initially. Liza Diamond, vice president of ladies’ dresses, said, “We’re going to take it slow in the beginning. Then we’ll go into a nice slow jog, and after that we’ll run with it.”
The company wanted to build on the success it had seen with other dress lines, including the licensed Calvin Klein dress collection, according to president Jeanette Nostra. The company is touting its latest move via Twitter, Facebook and the recently revamped andrewmarc.com. Aside from showing an assortment of products, there is a film section with behind-the-scenes footage from photo shoots and an AM radio feature will be added to the site down the road.
After the economy faltered last spring and seeing that her Dosty collection was getting diffused at retail, Dorothy Lanier closed the eight-year-old business and has launched a new label, Pope, for spring. She said she felt as though she was being pulled by the market too much instead of following her own instincts. The new line, which takes her father’s first name, is geared for stylish young working mothers such as herself who want modern-looking clothes that will hold up in their hectic lives.
“There is a simplicity involved. Who has time for wardrobe changes during the day? These are clothes for real life, but they still feel modern and have this quiet confidence,” Lanier said. “The clothes have their own voice and feel individual.”
Dresses, tops, pants and skirts comprise the 40-piece collection, which wholesales from $50 to $160. All the designs are produced in a West 37th Street factory so Lanier can “make sure the quality is there and the pieces are consistent.”
For each sale at retail, Pope donates a flock of chicks through Heifer International, a nonprofit that aims to help end world hunger and poverty through self-reliance and sustainability.
An illustration of a chick is imprinted on the back of every hangtag to symbolize the brand’s philanthropic mission. “The philanthropic tie-in is what I’m most excited about,” Lanier said. “It gives me so much enthusiasm. It’s not like this planet needs another slouchy pant. Philanthropy is so important. Why not tie it into your business? We as a family choose projects to focus on so I thought, ‘Why not do that in the workplace?’”
Cachet Industries has introduced NV Couture, a collection of prom dresses that will be in stores this spring. National sales manager Michael Ruff said he had no reservations about launching a label in this economy. “We look at it as an opportunity to grow our business. We think we’re coming out of the recession and the customer will be back. And we want to be there when she does,” he said.
The 80-piece collection consists of sexy gowns and short, embellished dresses. Wholesale prices range from $79 to $129. First-year projected wholesale volume is $8 million, Ruff said.
Aside from the fact prom was not a category being addressed by Cachet Industries, Ruff recognized consumers are now shopping for specific reasons. In addition, he said, “Prom is a very big business, and it’s totally recession-proof.”
After years of struggling to find stylish clothes that fit her 5-foot, 2-inch frame, Henrietta Pertuz launched a signature collection this fall. The former advertising executive didn’t give up her day job until she had taken night classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology. In the past, any of Pertuz’s purchases needed to be altered at the store or taken to the tailor, “which kind of kills the instant gratification factor,” she said. She has made a concerted effort not to feature looks that are difficult for small women to wear, such as maxidresses and big block prints.
Her collection of dresses, pants, tops and jackets wholesales from $80 to $150 and is sold in select specialty stores and at Myshape.com, a site that has shoppers register their sizes, then offers specific recommendations. She is spreading the news via word-of-mouth, trunk shows and bloggers who have loyal petite-size followers. On Oct. 22, Pertuz will be on hand for The Shipley Shops charity sale in Philadelphia, and she will host a Nov. 19 trunk show at San Marco Petites in Jacksonville, Fla.
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