Ovadia & Sons is branching out.
This story first appeared in the May 31, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The men’s label designed by 29-year-old twin brothers Ariel and Shimon Ovadia, has created a collection for the venerable J. Press retail chain. The full lifestyle offering of sportswear and tailored clothing will debut for spring, and will be exclusive to the U.S. market. The Ovadias also serve as creative directors for the new label.
“In the past year, we have been approached by several brands who offered us design or creative-director positions,” said Shimon Ovadia. “When we heard from J. Press, we automatically knew it was the right fit. We believe that J. Press is the only brand left in the U.S. that can launch a new label. We are very excited about the opportunity.”
His brother said they agreed to sign on with J. Press around four months ago and have been working on the new collection since then. It will be “very relaxed” and will lean heavily toward sportswear, ranging from tanks, Henleys and T-shirts to swimwear. There will also be “some tailored elements,” he said.
“That’s why it was so exciting to my brother and I,” Ariel said. “Even though 70 percent of our collection is sportswear, we don’t really get into things like Henleys and T-shirts.”
As a result, he said it was “a challenge for us to create a new collection that would be relevant to today’s guy,” said Ariel. “The J. Press customer is a little older, and the younger customer doesn’t really know the history of the brand.”
J. Press, which was founded in New Haven in 1902, is still steeped in its Ivy League tradition, with its signature sack suits and navy blazers. By partnering with Ovadia & Sons, which also has a classic bent but with a modern sensibility, it should attract a younger customer to the store, one that is currently shopping at J. Crew or Ralph Lauren’s Rugby store.
“We’ve created a young, fresh collection — what we’re calling classic, with a little trend and hipness,” said Ariel. “The design approach was to infuse a fun, fresh take along with the heritage and history of J. Press. We’re bringing it up to date and making it exciting and relevant for today’s market.” Although the name has not been finalized, the line will have its own moniker and will not be called Ovadia & Sons for J. Press, Ariel said. “They’re coming up with a name that will be relevant to the brand history. They see it as a freestanding label.” That could indicate that the partners might consider wholesaling the collection down the road. Ariel Ovadia had no comment, saying only, “We think there’s a lot of room in the market for a line like this.”
J. Press was founded by Jacobi Press on the grounds of Yale University, and was acquired by the Japanese manufacturer, retailer and distributor Onward Kashiyama in 1986. Onward Kashiyama operates as part of Onward Holdings Co. Ltd., which operates nearly 100 companies in Asia and around the world, including Joseph Group and the Jil Sander Group.
J. Press currently operates four freestanding stores in the U.S.: in New York City, New Haven, Cambridge, Md., and Washington.
Since moving into its 4,000-square-foot home on Madison Avenue and 44th Street in Manhattan in 2007, the company has moved to update its merchandise offerings to augment its Ivy League heritage. Its Web site showcases collaborations with Barbour, D.S. Dundee, Eastland, Will Leather Goods and Cremieux.
The Ovadias grew up working in the family’s children’s wear business, Magic Kids Inc., a $10 million distribution company that specializes in closeouts, and launched their vintage-inspired men’s collection in 2010. The brand offers a modern interpretation of American and English classics and includes a comprehensive assortment that ranges from suits, outerwear and formalwear to shoes, furnishings and accessories. The brand is carried at retailers including Barneys New York and Bloomingdale’s in the U.S. Earlier this year, Ovadia & Sons was named one of GQ’s Best New Menswear Designers in America.