Oxxford Clothes Launches Contemporary Collection

American suit manufacturer Oxxford Clothes will test the elasticity of its brand with the launch of 1220.

Once relegated to the closets of well-heeled but conservative executives, American suit manufacturer Oxxford Clothes will test the elasticity of its brand next spring with the launch of 1220, a collection of tailored clothing, furnishings and key sportswear items squarely aimed at a younger, more contemporary consumer.

This story first appeared in the May 14, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“There are two opportunities in the luxury business today: the affluent, classic customer who wants traditional looks and rich fabrics, and the younger guy who dresses more casually but still wants to look refined,” said Oxxford president Mike Cohen. “This new collection is for that guy.”

The collection is named for the address of the brand’s Chicago factory and espouses what Cohen calls “iconic American style.” Suits, cut in casual fabrications such as linen and cotton, will feature bold patterns, slubby textures, summer plaids and soft construction. “This is about a new dress code for the modern American guy,” Cohen said.

The line will include dress furnishings as well as a number of firsts for Oxxford, such as eyewear, denim and casual footwear, the last of which will likely be produced by Keds.

Off-the-rack suits will retail for between $2,000 and $3,000, although this is a lower price point than the primary label — a move the company hopes will help the line gain acceptance in contemporary, fashion-oriented specialty stores. Classic Oxxford suits start at $4,000.

“This expands Oxxford’s persona as an aspirational brand, allowing younger, rising affluent customers to experience our clothes,” said Joe Blair, president of Individualized Apparel Group, Oxxford’s parent company.

The new collection is part of a larger restructuring at Oxxford. Once under one label, the brand will now be split into two: 1220 and Oxxford Highest Quality. The latter, similar to the brand’s classic label, will focus on traditional, high-end tailored clothing featuring refined piece goods, noble fibers and improved construction.

Highest Quality, with suits starting at $4,000, will showcase fine worsteds and cashmere blends in the traditional, boardroom-friendly fabrics for which Oxxford is best known.

The company also upgraded the suit’s make so patterns “match” at the gorge and shoulders, a signature of sartorial quality.

Included in the Highest Quality collection will be dress furnishings, hosiery, footwear and jewelry.

The two-label system is an evolution of the collection concept — a grouping of more-forward suit styles — that Oxxford launched last year. While that collection addressed the needs of Oxxford’s more contemporary customer, Cohen said the concept needed to be further separated from the core business both in terms of branding and price.

“This new structure allows us to straddle both ends of the spectrum,” Cohen added.

Debuting at Pitti Uomo in June, Highest Quality and 1220 mark the next step in Oxxford’s evolution from manufacturer to lifestyle brand — a move that will be supported by five additional stores, slated to bow by the end of 2011. The company currently operates one store in New York City.

It’s a strategy being adopted companywide. A number of IAG’s brands, including shirtmaker Gitman Brothers and suit label H. Freeman, have made or are plotting moves into contemporary market, according to Blair.