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This story first appeared in the August 21, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
As WWDMAGIC reshapes itself as a preeminent fashion expo appealing to Baby Boomers, Kellwood Co.’s Democracy aims to carry that mandate.
Two years after building a business at Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Von Maur, Amazon.com and specialty stores in the U.S., South America, Mexico, Germany and Canada, the denim and sportswear label is making its debut in WWDMAGIC’s White section with spring looks loaded with bright colors, lively prints and stylish silhouettes that can be worn in various facets of a multitasking woman’s life.
There’s a textured jacket in soft, unstructured tweed that’s suitable for the office, for instance. Plus, a dip-dyed chambray shirt can be knotted in the front as a weekend get-up. Budget-conscious fashion lovers who can’t decide between a solid color or print can settle on $78 reversible jeans that pop in a coral tint on one side and are printed with tonal lace on the other.
Democracy tries to enhance every shape between sizes 4 and 16 with wider waistbands, forward seams and angled pockets. Its strategy is that its combination of trends and accessible retail prices between $39 and $128 will attract independent specialty stores, many of which are owned by women.
After all, the company’s motto states that it’s for the “woman who grew up with fashion and got busy with life,” according to Caren Lettiere, president of Democracy in Los Angeles. “Her priorities in life are such that she isn’t going online and searching for key fashion to wear,” she said. “We’re trying to streamline that fashion message.” — Khanh T.L. Tran
Ready to step out on her own, Diana Ra, former head designer of Patterson J. Kincaid and SNT Workshop, launched d.RA in January 2011 to design more feminine pieces that were accessible to a wide range of women.
The line will show for the first time at WWDMAGIC, at booth 74508 in the Young Contemporary section.
The brand, which is sold at Nordstrom, Piperlime and boutiques like Los Angeles’ Satine and Planet Blue, blends contemporary concepts with Ra’s laid-back California style. For spring, she was inspired by men’s wear, pajamas and lingerie.
The first delivery includes chiffon printed tops that resemble sleepwear, eyelet and a palette of light blues, flesh tones, creams and whites. The second delivery will bring more pastels, mint and salmon with neon accents.
Prices range from $14 for basic tanks to $70 for specialty items like jackets and outerwear. First-year sales projections are $600,000 to $800,000. — Kira Cole
With 11 years of retail experience, Katie Echeverry of Unique Vintage is branching into wholesale with the brand’s second season at WWDMAGIC.
What started as a small-scale venture out of Echeverry’s garage, where she sold authentic vintage items found at estate sales and flea markets, quickly expanded into a thriving Burbank retail business, where vintage-inspired men’s and women’s clothing and accessories lines such as Lolita-Girl and Heartbreaker sell along with Echeverry’s own niche dress collection, since 2001.
“It was never meant to be a ‘real’ line to sell wholesale,” she said, explaining she started manufacturing her own designs to meet requests for specific styles. “We were being asked more and more by other stores if we sold wholesale.”
The 150-piece wholesale collection of retro-style dresses and swimsuits ranges from $49 to $69. Styles include strapless chiffon swing dresses, tea-length wedding dresses, high-waisted bikinis and maillot-style one-piece swimsuits. So far, 45 stores carry the collection, including Los Angeles-based Polkadots & Moonbeams, and others in the U.K. and Australia.
The line is also being offered to online boutiques like the vintage dress site Shopruche.com. Echeverry anticipates strong growth and minimal challenges with the wholesale venture, having readied a second floor of warehouse space along with a team of designers and a new wholesale manager.
“We hope to attract some larger stores that are looking for interesting, feminine dresses that have a retro flair [at MAGIC],” said Echeverry, who has chosen designs to appeal to customers from young adults to middle-aged women at the trade show. She also aims to make private-label deals with prominent boutiques like Fred Segal. “We need to do at least $50,000 in sales.” — Christina Silvestri
ON THE RISE
The Emerging Designer Showcase, formerly known as Launchpad, will feature a dozen up-and-coming designers from around the world.
Looks range from vintage-inspired dresses (Recollection by Sandra Murphy) to cutting-edge sportswear (SaintChic by former “24 Hour Catwalk” contestant Gingie McLeod), chemical-free and organic ready-to-wear (a.d.o. Clothing by Anjelika Krishna and Soldat by Camilla Wright) to golfwear (GolfHER by competitive amateur golfer Sarah Schultz).
The showcase also has a wide range of price points, from $50 to $500 wholesale.
Hailing from international points like Tanzania (Doreen Mashika), Thailand (Joel Cidenzi of Cidenzi Mori and Angelys Balek) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kahindo Mateene of Modahnik) or U.S. cities like New York (Jin Hsu of Xinnatex) and Dallas (Ashlee Brooks), the designers are all expected to be present at the show. — Marcy Medina
This year, the accessories section at WWDMAGIC will feature a USA Made showcase presented by the Accessories Council featuring 20 brands all made in America.
“The Accessories Council has started an initiative with a variety of jewelry designers in an effort to bring manufacturing back to the U.S., and is showcasing 20 of them at WWDMAGIC,” said Karen Giberson, president of the Accessories Council.
Among the brands highlighted are New York-based Gerard Yosca, who is also showing his full collection at Project for the first time.
“There seems to be a new market every four weeks, and Las Vegas seems to be the other big central place to show now,” Yosca said, praising the initiative. “We are hand-made in New York the old fashioned way. The hands in this country are as skilled and fine as they are in Italy and France.”
Joining Yosca are Alex Woo, Clipa, Caroline Rocha, Carla Marina, Courtney Simmelkjaer, Ella Rae, Eye of the Sea, Heet, Holy Bauble, Isharya, John Wind/Maximal Art, Lesli Dale, Lionette, Nicole Romano, Relios, Roman Luxe, Shansen, Tuleste and W/A Studios. — M.M.