It took a night at the opera to bring new life to the Sandy Starkman contemporary brand.
The conversation turned to Starkman when Jerry Chazen, former Liz Claiborne Inc. chairman, ran into Martin Richter, president of Kazu Apparel Group, who worked for Chazen at Claiborne, at the Metropolitan Opera in March for a performance of Chabrier L’Etoile.
“Jerry asked me, ‘Why aren’t you and Sandy doing things together?’” Richter said, Turns out Starkman’s company, Sandy Bear Design Inc., needed financing after an investment firm in India discontinued its support. Chazen had been helping Starkman rebuild the brand. They’re both active at the Museum of Arts and Design, where Chazen is a major benefactor and Starkman sits on the educational council.
Richter brought the idea of helping Starkman to Kazu’s parent company, Lana Fashionwear, which has decided to relaunch Sandy Starkman for spring 2011.
“We plan to grow the Sandy Starkman business with enhanced distribution,” Richter said. “We’re targeting Neiman’s, Chico’s, Home Shopping Network, Dillard’s and Macy’s. There will be different labels for each account as their selected designs will be theirs exclusively. The label could be Sandy Starkman, Sandy Starkman Spirit, Sandybear Designs or the store brand. Neiman’s would have the Sandy Starkman top-end brand and Chico’s will be done as a private brand.”
Richter also said a men’s collection could be launched in 12 to 18 months.
“We are going to reach more customers with collections that hit different segments. This is a new adventure,” said the Brooklyn-born Starkman, who has lived in China, Peru and Argentina, among other countries, learning about animal skins and weaving techniques and cultivating the Gaucho look for which he has become known. He still owns the rights to his labels.
Asked what looks for spring will be important, Starkman said, “The kimono in all variations, whether it be a slim body with a high neck or big and flowing, and under these big jackets, pencil trousers. In everything, there’s some patchwork.” Starkman said many of the details and embellishment are hand-done. “The workmanship takes it out of the mainstream, but it’s never meant to look like arts and crafts. It’s sophisticated with a touch of humor.”