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Over the past three years, designer Antonio Azzuolo has built a reputation as an elegant tailor with a keen eye for sophisticated, somewhat dandyish designs. This season at Project he will present his fall collection for the first time at a trade show, after showing his collections regularly during New York Fashion Week.
“We started out the business on a custom basis, and the past few seasons we have been brand and image building,” explained Azzuolo. “I think now we are ready to go after proper distribution, which is why we are showing at Project.”
This story first appeared in the January 6, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The label is sold primarily in Japan in a handful of stores. Azzuolo currently has no U.S. distribution, although it was previously sold at Scoop and Kesner.
The fall collection has a “bespoke, Sixties ski resort, Mod” feel, said Azzuolo. “It’s quite graphic, in terms of high contrasts between a color palette of white, ivory, black and navy,” he added. Key items include a trenchcoat, peacoat, unstructured sport coats and hand-knit sweaters from Peru.
Retail prices for tailored jackets are $1,400 to $1,900, shirts are $225 to $350, trousers are $375 to $550 and sweaters are $450 to $650. The collection has about 50 to 60 styles and Azzuolo is introducing denim for the first time this season.
Azzuolo hails from Montreal and spent 10 years in Paris designing men’s wear for Hermès, Kenzo and Galeries Lafayette early in his career. Azzuolo moved to New York in 2000 and freelanced for companies such as Kenneth Cole and Gap before becoming a men’s wear design director at Ralph Lauren for its Purple and Black labels. He launched his own label in 2008.
The Brooklyn Circus
“The evolution of urban” is how Ouigi Theodore characterizes the retro-preppy, collegiate look of The Brooklyn Circus, his trendy Brooklyn-based sportswear brand.
“I have a degree in history and marketing from Stony Brook in New York and studied advertising and graphic design at FIT. Everything that we’ve done with this brand has to do with our love of history,” explained Theodore. “We’ve taken a little bit from different eras, from the Thirties and Fifties to the Sixties and Seventies.”
Those historical references can be seen in the brand’s retro varsity jackets with chenille Brooklyn Circus logos, preppy cardigans and vintage newsboy caps.
“We’re having fun with this and we’re interested in both style and character — what’s on the outside as well as what’s on the inside,” he said.
Theodore started The Brooklyn Circus as a retail store in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn in 2006, and has since opened a second store in San Francisco with partner Gabriel Garcia. His first wholesale accounts were all in Japan, with buyers making treks to the retail store and simply buying merchandise off the store floor. Last year, the brand launched its first wholesale effort in the U.S., introducing the line at Project Las Vegas.
The collection is sold in about 10 U.S. stores, including Wish and Striver’s Row in Atlanta and Sir and Madame in Chicago. In Canada, it’s available at Holt Renfrew, and in Japan, in about 25 doors. “The Japanese buyers like the real Americana feel of the collection,” pointed out Theodore.
For fall, highlights in the lineup include distressed leather jackets, slim-fit denim and brushed cotton pants in shades of dirty white, khaki and mustard. Varsity jackets retail for $480, double-breasted blazers are $510, denim is $180 to $220, cardigans are $95 to $240 and T-shirts are $35.
In just four seasons since its founding, footwear brand Heutchy has been tapped to create shoes for the fashion shows of designers such as Richard Chai, Shipley & Halmos and Timo Weiland. The brand’s stated aim of creating shoes that are all-purpose classics forward in concept but lacking pretense, and that bridge the gap between casual and formal, have struck a chord with like-minded designers.
“We have tried to take known base shapes and reinterpret them to make them feel new and modern,” said Wells Stellberger, who studied shoe design at Parsons The New School for Design and founded Heutchy with his younger brother, Dawson, who oversees the business side of the company. “For instance, on our Bond style we have taken a classic brogue upper and added a curved, beveled heel shape and a bottom rubber layer. We’ve also introduced hand-welted Goodyear construction in a number of models that is used less and less due to its labor-intensive process.”
Affordable pricing is also a hallmark of Heutchy, whose shoes retail for $300 to $450. The line is carried in about 25 stores, including Odin, International Playground, Blackbird and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong.
Heutchy will introduce its first bags this season, with three styles: a tote, backpack and duffel bag.
Founded in 1999 by Jimmy Reilly, Rogue started life as an outerwear specialist, carving out a niche in leather jackets with fashionable details such as curved arms and darted sleeves. Two years ago, the company expanded into a full sportswear collection, which now accounts for about 70 percent of sales.
Rogue is showing at Project New York for the first time. There, look for garment-dyed pants trimmed with leather and oilcloth, Western shirts with appliqués and wired collars and cuffs, striped overdyed denim jeans and pigment dyed corduroys in the fall offerings.
“Our shirts have longer cuffs than normal. It’s more of a rock ’n’ roll look,” said Reilly of the line’s overall vibe. “Snorkel coats with big collars and fur-trimmed hoods with a lot of volume around the neck are big for fall — in garment dyed fabric or nylon.”
Leather jackets retail for $695, cloth jackets for $250 to $325, wovens for $145 to $165, bottoms for $155 to $185 and sweaters for $125 to $200.
Rogue is sold in about 100 doors, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Holt Renfrew. The company is owned by Reilly and his business partner, Jim Goldman, who also hold outerwear licenses for Chaps and Columbia Sportswear.
Rogue will introduce its first footwear collection for fall, including motorcycle and work boots, as well as high-top sneakers that will retail from $180 to $240. “We used oilcloth, canvases, coated suede and napa leather. A lot of the boots have mixed materials and have zippers up the side, instead of lacing up,” said Reilly.