Andrew Fezza, a Cutty Sark and Coty Award-winning men’s designer, is jumping back into women’s wear for fall.The Connecticut-based designer has signed a licensing deal with Guotai International, a Chinese company that is managed in New York by Colin and David Tanenbaum, for a bridge- to better-priced line of women’s sportswear and careerwear.“I did women’s for a brief period in a very high-level way,” Fezza said. “It was a couture collection that was sold in Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.”The new line will be much more affordable, he said, but will have a distinct point of view that is intended to complement Fezza’s men’s wear aesthetic of American classics with a European edge.“I’ve watched how my daughters shop over the past 10 years and I see how young people approach fashion today,” Fezza said. “They think nothing of wearing $1,200 suede pants with a $200 jacket. They have their own sense of style. That’s what set the foundation for this collection.”Key pieces will include suede or Ultrasuede pants and a wide variety of knits including soft unconstructed jackets and sweaters in different gauges. The career component will include better wool blends. For spring, Fezza expects to expand the offering to include a street active component."My women’s wear will have a strong sophisticated point of view, both as a collection and as individual pieces that a woman can build a wardrobe around,” he said.Fezza has been selling men’s wear through a completely licensed model for the past several years and currently offers suits, pants, neckwear and boys’ wear through a variety of partners. “We made the decision years ago to go straight licensing,” he said, adding that he still retains complete ownership of his name and trademarks.Stephen Wayne, chairman of Stephen Wayne & Associates, who also owns the Bum Equipment brand, negotiated the deal. “This is a very important license for designer Andrew Fezza whose entry into the women’s market will round out the assortment and make the Fezza brand a total package including men’s, women’s and children’s products offered at retailers across North America,” Wayne said.Fezza cited Guotai’s experience in sourcing, piece goods and product development as the key reasons for partnering with the company for the women’s line. “About 90 percent of what they do is private label and they wanted to take on a designer name,” he said. Additionally, Colin Tanenbaum was the former president of Mary McFadden Collection and has experience in the U.S. women’s market.Price points have not yet been determined but will be “multitiered,” Fezza said. The initial distribution push will be specialty stores or department stores that offer a more-personal experience such as Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor, he said.The collection won’t have its own web site so securing online distribution is also a goal. “Online retailers have been very important to us in men’s wear and there’s a bigger base in women’s wear,” he said.Fezza has won numerous awards for his work, including a CFDA Award for men’s wear, several Cutty Sark Awards, a Coty American Fashion Critics' Award for men’s wear and a Chrysler/Cartier Stargazer Award for Best New American Designer.
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