Roller Rabbit has a new owner and a new creative director.
Last month, the brand founded by Roberta Freymann in 2003 as an India-inspired artisan brand, was quietly acquired by RRR Brands LLC for an undisclosed amount.
The new owners, led by managing director Andrew Seibert of Bricker Holdings, which also has investments in Del Toro shoes and Casablanca Polo, have named Antonio K. Ciongoli creative director. In July, Ciongoli left Eidos, the younger-skewed collection from Isaia, where he had served as that brand’s creative director.
In his new role at Roller Rabbit and RRR Brands, Ciongoli will oversee all creative aspects for the brand going forward and use its supply chain to develop a complementary, but stand-alone men’s brand called 18 East. That line, which will have a soft launch for fall, will be sold primarily direct-to-consumer on its own dedicated web site, as well as in Roller Rabbit stores.
Reached in India where he was traveling with Freymann and the new owners, Ciongoli said the plan is to start with a men’s capsule for fall and expand into a “more comprehensive” offering for holiday. The ultimate goal is to create a full men’s collection.
“Right now, the brand does a sizable business in men’s printed shirts, pajamas, pocket squares — things like that,” he said. “But we will make it a full lifestyle brand with the same DNA that can stand on its own.”
He said the owners, who acquired the brand last month, were attracted to Roller Rabbit’s aesthetic of artisanal product created mainly in India and Nepal.
“They’re looking at other brands that are similar to build a multibrand platform,” he said.
Freymann founded Roller Rabbit in 2003 with colorful hand-blocked kurtas and the brand has evolved into a full travel-inspired range of men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, as well as home goods and leisurewear. The print-driven collection is inspired by traditional Indian block printing and named for a piece of discarded fabric featuring a whimsical rabbit that Freymann discovered in Jaipur. The brand operates 12 retail locations around the world, has its own e-commerce site and more than 500 wholesale accounts.
According to Ciongoli, Freymann will serve as chairman emeritus of the brand and work with him on the creative and design. “It’s important that her presence be felt,” he said.
Born and raised in Burlington, Vt., Ciongoli has more than 10 years of international luxury sportswear design experience. He began his career in fashion at Vineyard Vines, where he was hired to answer phones in the customer service center. Within four months, he was managing the design of all men’s and women’s accessories and children’s apparel. In 2008, Ciongoli joined Ralph Lauren as a knitwear designer for the Rugby brand. He then worked with designer Michael Bastian as deputy creative director before leaving to join Isaia, where he launched Eidos in 2013.