Consider Tess Giberson a woman of her word. When the designer left the luxury knitwear house Tse nearly two years ago, she did so with plans to relaunch her own collection — on hold since 2005 when Giberson originally joined Tse — by fall 2009. Now, with a capsule line of the new Tess Giberson on the market for spring, she’s just a season shy of hitting her mark.
“I’m really glad I waited,” says Giberson, who spent the interim with her family — she’s the mother of two — and consulting here and there. “I got some perspective,” key to which was reentering the business at a more accessible price point. Giberson, who began her career at Calvin Klein, had always worked in the designer sphere, including with her own collection and at Tse. However, her new label will be priced at the contemporary point — retail opens at $88 for jersey T-shirts and tops out at $425 for coats (wholesale prices range from $35 to $200). At press time, no stores were confirmed, but first year sales projections following fall 2010 are $1.2 million.
Such newfound accessibility is due in part to Harriet Lau, Giberson’s business partner, formerly director of Tse’s parent company LeBaron International Inc. “Harriet has an amazing network of resources and understanding of how things work in China [where the collection is produced],” Giberson says.
The 55-piece lineup retains the sporty ease that was Giberson’s mark at Tse. There are cashmere and silk blend T-shirts, cotton jersey tanks with an asymmetric twist, tailored linen jackets, which are light but sturdy, all done in a minimal palette of ivory, gray, black and white. Giberson says it’s a foundation for what’s to come. “Usually, I think more about a concept,” she says, alluding to her typically arty instincts. “But because spring is a capsule collection, I just wanted to think about great pieces.”
Still, the aesthetic resonates with Giberson’s previous work if the process proved quite a change. “Before, everything had my hand on it,” she says. “It was very labor intensive and it was a great experience, but obviously not a great way to have a business. I’m thinking in a more commercial way, but in a good sense.”
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