NEW YORK — Robert Graham is focusing its energies on expanding the women’s business.The brand has offered a small assortment of women’s wear over the years, but the category accounts for only a fraction of its sales — around 5 percent. The plan is to more than triple that number within the next several years.“We’ve dabbled it in,” said Andrew Berg, president of Robert Graham. “At one point, we had it at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom, but we took a break about two years ago. We had consumers coming into our stores asking for women’s so we knew there was an opportunity.”He said the goal “for the short term” is to increase penetration of women’s wear to around 15 percent. “We think we can get there in 18 to 24 months — without losing any men’s sales. We look at it as an accretive business.”The first step was to hire Leigh Baird, an industry veteran who spent more than 20 years at Ralph Lauren, to come on board to head women’s design. “We worked together at Ralph,” Berg said, “so I knew she would get the Robert Graham aesthetic.”That appears to be the case since the offering features an array of bright patterns and prints on dresses, shirts and jackets that complement the men’s wear collection.“We just relaunched it in our stores and on e-commerce for spring,” Berg said, “and so far it’s doing great.” The collection will be expanded for fall.Among the key pieces for spring are a Cubana-inspired silk wrap dress in a colorful floral print, a perforated and bonded cropped leather jacket and matching dress embossed with a floral botanical print, a moto-print leather vest and a zigzag basket print leather jacket. Not surprisingly, there are also a number of shirts in either silk or cotton in both signature Robert Graham prints as well as solids with bold prints on the collars and cuffs.“The more bright and illuminating the print is, the better it does,” Baird said.For fall, the collection will highlight racing influences — an important part of the Robert Graham men’s business — with a black-and-white check emblazoned on shirts, jackets and linings. Leather and velvet jackets are also offered.Prices range from $198 for cotton shirts and $248 to $298 for silk shirts to $348 to $398 for dresses and $698 to $998 for leathers. “Prices are comparable to our men’s line,” Berg said.He said that while some larger stores came through the showroom to view the collection, the primary distribution will continue to be the brand’s 18 full-price stores. “We’re looking to build momentum in our own channels first,” he said.There are also some additions to the men’s assortment, including the hiring of Sean Chadwick as vice president of men’s design. He was formerly with Converse and Abercrombie & Fitch.Robert Graham is owned by Differential Brands Group, which also owns Hudson Jeans and Swims. It was founded in 2001 by designer Robert Stock, who remains active in the company.
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