Tony Melillo is banking on his luxe contemporary brand to rack up sizable gains this year.
This story first appeared in the May 22, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo, which launched in spring 2012 as a high-fashion T-shirt line for women and men, has expanded into a total lifestyle collection. Manufactured in Peru, the line now features cashmere sweaters and yoga pants; French terry shorts, sweaters and sweatshirts; casual dresses, and basic and novelty Ts.
ATM is currently showing the pre-spring line to retailers at its new showroom at 210 Eleventh Avenue, Suite 501, in New York.
“There’s a white space for luxe contemporary,” said Melillo, whose line hangs near resources such as Alexander Wang and James Perse. The company’s logo, ATM, is discreetly printed on all the T-shirts and appears on a black label inside the clothing. “ATM were my initials before there were ATM machines,” said Melillo. For the first year, ATM was exclusive to Barneys New York, but now the collection has been expanded to other specialty stores.
“The first full season we had incredible selling. Every week we were at 16 to 17 percent sell-throughs. We started to see there was obviously demand, and we were doing something right,” said Melillo. Modal T-shirts took the lead, in colors such as white, black and gray. Both the women’s and men’s T-shirts were housed in a 1,500-square-foot shop at Barneys on the Co-op floor. “We were selling 600 T-shirts a week at Barneys,” he said. For fall 2012, they started layering in cashmere sweaters and were selling at 17 to 18 percent a week. “Fall cashmere sold 98 percent,” he said.
He said his Barneys customers were buying things in threes — black, white, gray. “You can tuck it, you can wear it out, you can wear it with a blazer and it goes a long way, and it’s a T-shirt,” he said. ATM is geared to a woman with a relaxed, casual style who doesn’t want to wear exercise clothes while she’s out, but wants clothing that is “easy, breezy to throw on,” said Melillo.
“I’m not saying that this is the most editorial line in the world….But my customer takes a hand to it and becomes addicted,” he said.
For pre-spring, wholesale prices for jersey T-shirts are $28 to $58; tops in silk and mohair-wool are between $85 and $90; French terry shorts are $55; French terry or cashmere pants are $64 to $216; dresses, in silk charmeuse, are $108 to $182; zip-up jackets in French terry are $114, and knits, in wool and cashmere, go from $150 to $432. The collection offers 10 deliveries a year.
Melillo said he has doubled the business this year, and looks to double it again next year, when he expects to generate between $5 million and $7 million in sales.
ATM is currently courting specialty stores exclusively. “We don’t want to sell department stores yet. We want to keep it in elevated specialty stores,” he said. Among the specialty stores that carry the line are Barneys, all doors and online; Kirna Zabête, New York; Forty Five Ten, Dallas; The Grocery Store, San Francisco; Savannah, Santa Monica; Mario’s, Portland, Ore.; Gypsy, Nantucket, Mass.; Weinstein’s, New Orleans; United Arrows, Tokyo; Harvey Nichols, Hong Kong, and Liberty, London.
While Melillo designs the line, his business partner, Dan Shamdasani, chief executive officer of Public Clothing Co., handles the back end. Melillo has hired CA Creative to handle social media for the company, and ATM plans to launch a Facebook page and Twitter account this month.
A former stylist, Melillo designed a unisex line in the Nineties called Nova and went on to become creative director of Generra. He is also the cofounder of Cynosure Holdings, a branding and licensing company that produces Selena Gomez’s Dream Out Loud line for Kmart. He currently serves as creative director for all the Selena Gomez licensed categories.