Luxury apparel direct-to-consumer brand Carlisle is gearing up for the big leagues.
The company, after spending the past year overhauling all aspects of the business from design to product development to merchandising, including all consumer touch points, will hold its first fashion show in February during New York Fashion Week. Details are still being worked out.
The work on the overhaul was completed in part through the lens of creative director Fred Tutino, who counts as past clients Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Sandra Bullock. Tutino was hired from Elie Tahari in January. He was also the former creative director for Roberto Torretta, and during his tenure there had created red-carpet dresses for Princess Letizia of Spain, Penélope Cruz and Salma Hayek.
Terrence Moorehead, chief executive officer of Carlisle, said of the re-branding, “We’ve been working on everything to relaunch every single consumer touch point and consumer-facing asset from color to the [shopping] bags and tag lines to contemporize and make more relevant the Carlisle and Etcetera brands.” Etcetera is the more casual line under the company’s umbrella. The review also included a restructuring of its outlet store base, with old locations shuttered and new ones opened in more upscale markets. Carlisle also plans to open a full-price pop up boutique next month in Chicago.
According to the ceo, annual volume is in excess of $100 million.
In working on the branding overhaul, the company also took a closer look at the specifics of its merchandise offerings, such as details from fabric to trim, and it also decided to “invest more heavily in some finer product,” Moorehead explained.
One new addition that arose from the design and product review is its recently launched cashmere program. “We’re using 18-gauge cashmere. Only a handful of firms are using that. We’re using the same yarns and mills as brands such as Balenciaga and Bottega Venetta. It’s the finest-quality cashmere that’s available out there,” the ceo said.
With the brand growing up, the company is ready to host its first fashion runway show for its fall 2018 collection. “We are making an effort to get the brand out there,” Moorehead said.
According to the ceo, “Carlisle was focused on chasing a demographic as opposed to chasing an attitude. Our targeted audience is now women who love clothing; women who want to be in style, but not trendy.…It’s about an attitude and women who care about style and exclusivity. We don’t make tens of thousands of any item.”
The brand has been around for over 35 years, and is perhaps better known under the label House of Carlisle. It follows a business model similar to other direct-to-consumer firms that rely on local stylists building their own loyal clientele for the brand. Cabi — the acronym stands for Carol Anderson by Invitation — is one example. And the business model has stylists from each firm host Tupperware-like parties in the form of an in-home fashion show for their friends. They also know the local market well, such as the social scene so they can help curtail the likelihood of two women showing up at an event in the same outfit.
Two key differences exist at Carlisle. Consumers can buy directly off the company site without being an existing client. The other is connected to price points. While others such as Cabi are in the more affordable range, with jackets between $138 to $248 and sweaters at $89 to $148, Carlisle’s are significantly higher, with jackets between $400 and $800 and skirts from $600 to as high as $1,200.