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Habitual Revamps Under New Ownership

Habitual's owner Bobby Ahn plans to offer a full contemporary sportswear and denim collection and change a lot of the existing products.

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The Los Angeles-based Habitual brand has seen some rough times in recent years, but with a new owner and creative head, executives at the denim company are looking to turn it around.

This story first appeared in the June 11, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The drama began about three years ago when founding designers Michael and Nicole Colovos left after a falling out with the brand’s former owners, Yosi Fujita and Toshi Kateo of Pacific Marketing Works. Under PMW, Habitual filed for bankruptcy in February 2008.

The brand is now owned by Bobby Ahn, who purchased it from PMW just over a year ago. Ahn, the owner of New Fashion, a manufacturing facility in Los Angeles that Habitual uses, hired Lee Holman as creative director in January.

Born and raised in London, Holman brings 12 years of design experience to Habitual. For the last two years he was creative director at Burberry’s soon-to-be-defunct contemporary label Thomas Burberry. Before that, Holman held design positions at Abercrombie & Fitch, Levi Strauss & Co. and Paul Smith. Holman plans to make the Habitual brand into a full contemporary sportswear and denim collection.

“We’ve gone through and refined the whole collection for holiday,” Holman said. “We went over all details, worked on more feminine trims and stitching. Going forward, we are looking at new trim packages.”

Although Holman said he plans to change a great deal of the product, he won’t ignore the core fits for which Habitual has become known. This is especially true with the skinny-jeans style. To offer more options to those wearing the skinny jeans, Holman is introducing a superskinny denim legging with four-way stretch for extra comfort. In addition, there is a wide-leg style, cuffed boyfriend style and an array of dressier pieces — a pleated skirt, tailored blazer, woven tops and dresses. The collection wholesales from $70 to $250.

For spring, Holman is working on a men’s wear collection as well as accessories, all of which will be designed in-house. Now sold in about 250 high-end specialty stores in the U.S., Holman said he plans to expand Habitual’s distribution into Asia and Europe, as well as to open freestanding Habitual stores in key cities.

The company expects sales of $10 million by the end of the year.

“Opening our own stores would be a natural progression for us,” Holman said. “It’s a great way to control your product and we can also work on special items for the stores to see how they sell.”

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