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Robert Graham Tests New Avenues

Robert Graham, best known for whimsical men’s shirts, is pursuing two potential sweet spots — women’s and the Web.

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Robert Graham, best known for whimsical men’s shirts, is pursuing two potential sweet spots — women’s and the Web.

This story first appeared in the August 3, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The eight-year-old brand has hired Michael Blume to head its women’s division and unveiled plans for a new Web site featuring e-commerce that is to launch Aug. 15.

Blume, a former vice president of sales for bridge resources Magaschoni and Due per Due, will seek to grow market share and develop product for Robert Graham women’s.

Launched in 2005, the collection has taken a backseat as the men’s business thrived, but company president Neal Kusnetz said it’s time to dedicate resources to the women’s line.

“There is clear demand from women for this product,” he said. “They love Robert Graham for their guy and they love it for themselves. We are known for color and details and feel there is an easy crossover to the women’s side.”

Sold in 250 doors worldwide, Robert Graham women’s generates $3 million at retail and accounts for some 15 percent of the company’s total volume.

Kusnetz said revenues for the division could easily top $25 million as the collection adds product — knits, for example, will bow this spring — and the company allocates additional resources for marketing and promotion such as in-store appearances and trunk shows.

“Just as Robert Graham has become a major influence in the men’s market, I see a similar opportunity for women,” said Blume, who starts his new job today. “It’s all about translating our signature product.”

Like the men’s collection, the women’s core program is based on boldly printed woven shirts with rich detail, but also includes tunics and dresses.

In two weeks, select pieces from the women’s core collection as well as men’s shirts and licensed products will be available for sale on the company’s Web site for the first time. The move is part of a larger revamp of robertgraham.us, which the company hopes to use as a product and communication laboratory.

“The Web site is a reflection of who you are as a brand,” Kusnetz said. “We wanted to have a window into how people are reacting to our brand and what they buy.”

He added that product will go live on the site 60 days after it hits stores, giving wholesale partners a “jump” on new merchandise.

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