Spanish sportswear company Custo Barcelona is back in the U.S. wholesale market after a seven-year absence.
Known for flamboyant prints, the company hopes to recapture the magic of its glory days Stateside, which peaked in 2007 with sales of about $40 million, according to cofounder and creative director Custo Dalmau.
“We understand that the market and the way to reach the consumer has changed,” Dalmau told WWD at the Dallas Market Center, where he reintroduced the collection at Brad Hughes & Associates. “We are happy because many people remember us with good feeling. We are working with some old accounts, and their reaction has been good.”
The fall lineup features vividly printed and embellished sweaters and party dresses, silk satin baseball jackets and an extensive collection of three-quarter-length coats in a panoply of textiles, including brocade, sequins, suede, fake fur, corded fringe and lamé.
The bestseller is a kelly green, gold and fuchsia brocade puffer coat topped with swaths of beading and oblique checkerboard sequins in white, chestnut, gold and black.
Dalmau pays attention to comfort, noting that the soft hand on a purple and fuchsia merino wool sweater was due to a silicone wash.
Wholesale prices range from $100 to $120 for sweaters, $100 to $150 for dresses and $100 to $350 for coats. The goods are made in Barcelona, Portugal, Italy, Turkey and China, he said.
The company does 90 million euros in annual sales, or about $101 million, to stores in Europe, the Middle East, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and its European web site, Dalmau explained.
He aims to have custo.com working toward e-commerce in the U.S. by yearend.
“The consumer is still there,” Dalmau said. “The new generation, they do not go to stores. They live through what they can do on their phone. If they cannot do it through there, they are not interested.”
Custo Barcelona entered the U.S. market in 1996. At its peak, it sold to Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and about 600 specialty stores plus nearly 30 monobrand stores from New York to Honolulu, Dalmau said.
Sales dwindled as accounts succumbed to the Great Recession, and the final straw was the closure of its distributor, Italian Fashion Trading.
“We tried to find another distributor for a year, but we couldn’t,” Dalmau said.
He and his sibling business partner, David Dalmau, closed all U.S. wholesale and retail operations in 2012 but continued to show the collection each season at New York Fashion Week.
“We were showing in New York for many years and we were very happy so we continued,” he explained. “Our New York show is attended more by Europeans than Americans, but for us it works very well.”
Logistics have changed so much since 2012 that the company can now send its goods directly to American accounts, he noted.
“Today you ship from Barcelona to a store in Kansas City and they receive it tomorrow, door-to-door,” Dalmau said.