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NEW YORK — Andrew Marc has snagged Richard Chai to serve as its new creative design consultant.
This story first appeared in the May 16, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The appointment of the CFDA award-winning designer is part of the company’s move to increase its visibility and branch out beyond its roots as a men’s leather outerwear brand.
The first Andrew Marc by Richard Chai collection, which will include men’s and women’s outerwear and sportswear, will be for spring 2014 and will be presented during Chai’s runway show at New York Fashion Week in September.
Chai launched his namesake brand in 2004 and showed his women’s collection on the runway the next year. In June 2008, Chai launched his men’s wear collection during Paris Fashion Week. In 2009, the designer introduced a new contemporary women’s collection Richard Chai Love, the female counterpart to his men’s wear label. Chai, who was named Swarovski Menswear Designer of the Year in 2010, is known for using architectural design elements, and for the importance he places on the construction of apparel. Design signatures such as arced seams, unusual fabrics and a varied color palette provide a modern twist to classic old-world tailoring.
Chai had a collaboration with Filson, but that ended after the brand changed hands. He also designs men’s footwear for Palladium and his most recent collection will hit stores this fall.
Stephen Budd, who came on board as president of Andrew Marc last month, said: “We chose Richard Chai for the great sense of detail and architectural design he brings to his work, which resonates with our brand’s rich history. Working with Richard to develop this collection is a very exciting opportunity for us. Richard brings a more forward natural interpretation of the Andrew Marc vision.”
Chai said: “I am drawn to heritage brands, and I remember having such positive regard for the Andrew Marc brand growing up. I am excited to delve into the DNA of the brand and to work with the in-house team to carve out the future, modern and innovative aesthetic of Andrew Marc. Stephen Budd is a friend, and the opportunity to work synergistically on the business and creative development of the brand is exciting.”
Andrew Marc was purchased by G-III Apparel Group Ltd. in 2008 for $42 million from Gordon Brothers Group. At that time, it generated around $80 million in sales under its Andrew Marc and Marc New York labels.
When it acquired the brand, G-III’s plan was to expand it into other product categories and create a meaningful lifestyle collection. That never materialized in a substantive way, but Budd said 2013 will be a transformational year for the brand. In addition to the appointment of Chai, Andrew Marc will introduce a revamped collection for fall called Denim & Leathers, a reincarnation of its Mark Moto line, a motorcycle-inspired collection with a heavy emphasis on leather. “We started Mark Moto last year and this is the evolution,” said Budd, who had run G-III’s men’s division in 2005 and served as group president of BCBG Max Azria as well as president of brand collections for Elie Tahari before rejoining G-III.
Denim & Leathers will launch at Saks Fifth Avenue as well as independent retailers in late summer. The offering will include premium denim in a variety of washes and finishes for $225, a leather motorcycle jacket with a sherpa lining for $695, $2,500 for a vintage shearling flight jacket, as well as leather puffers and a down motorcycle jacket.
Going forward, Chai will be involved in the design of Denim & Leathers as well as the core Andrew Marc upscale brand and its secondary line, Marc New York. He will also work on the women’s collection as well as the new Noir leather sportswear component of the offering, launching for holiday.
Separately, Andrew Marc has hired a new vice president of marketing and public relations, Marlene McDade, who will be working on the company’s brand image.
This summer, the company will be evolving its digital platform so that each of its labels stands alone. A Denim & Leathers site will be created and the Andrew Marc site will have a new storefront with a “pass-through” to Marc New York, McDade said.
Budd said: “We are transforming our brand messaging and the way we engage with our customers and retailers. It’s not just about outerwear anymore.”