Be&D co-founders Steve Dumain and Be Inthavong are going their separate ways after almost six years as design and business partners.

This story first appeared in the December 21, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The split is amicable, said Dumain, who will remain as sole creative director of the brand, which will also retain its name. Inthavong, who could not be reached for comment, will return to his family’s silk business, which operates in New York and Laos.

“We’re trying to make it seamless,” said Dumain, who began designing the handbag and footwear collection on his own in July (he designed the spring 2010 collection, as well as the recent collaborations with Doo.Ri and Rachel Roy). “The thing I miss about working with somebody is that the possibilities are endless. But the thing I enjoy about working alone is that [there is] a focus. I’ve heard from people that they feel the collection [has] evolved and is focused, and they didn’t know it was just me. There’s something about doing a craft alone. The viewer can sense it.”

The collection is sold in luxury boutiques, online and at department stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Lane Crawford, Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Villa Moda and Isetan. Sales figures were not disclosed.

The company recently added Dover Street Market and Gente to its roster of retailers, which Dumain said was a sign of confidence in the brand’s direction.

“I’m going back to a more simple collection,” he said of the line’s aesthetic. “We still have the exciting product, but I want to offer a quiet luxury, too. That’s where the brand is evolving.”

Dumain plans to continue to produce the line in a New York atelier, a feature of the collection that has long been a selling point for Dumain and Inthavong.

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