GM Studio, a new vintage-inspired brand with an emphasis on handmade details and luxury materials, backed by Georges and Armand Marciano and designed by former Guess design director Cinzia Simone, is making an effort to distance itself from Guess as much as possible.
“There is a blood relationship,” Simone said. “The brothers are related. Maurice and Paul are running Guess. Georges left, and he was the guy that started it all. The connection to Guess is not even there. It’s a completely different business model and completely different aesthetic than Guess. I’m the middle person.”
Georges Marciano sold his 40 percent share of the company to Maurice and Paul in 1992. Over the years, there have been lawsuits and countersuits between the two camps. Georges last year alleged in court that his role at Guess was excised from corporate documents and that Guess had prevented him from earning a living by contesting his application for the Canadian trademark to Royal Navy by Georges Marciano.
Armand on Thursday said that the name GM Studios was chosen “because it sounds very nice. It’s a great label and the initials of Georges Marciano. If we wanted to use George Marciano or Armand Marciano or one of my kids’ names and Marciano, there is no problem.”
“For the newer generation that might not be aware of Georges Marciano, their influences are different,” said Simone. “We wanted to start fresh for the new generation.” The name is also a reference to the company’s studio in downtown Los Angeles’ fashion district. “It’s a pink building we found just by walking around,” Simone said.
Armand added that the press will know that he and Georges are launching the brand. “It’s pretty obvious, but it’s cool that a new generation will find out that someone who has been around for a long time is involved,” Armand said, projecting that the brand will do $1 million in its first year.
When he sold his shares, a separation agreement granted Georges Marciano the right to use his full name, although not his surname alone, in “any way he wishes in retail and manufacturing” after Aug. 23, 1995.
GM Studio will have premium price points, ranging from $98 for T-shirts to $1,200 for a jacket made from French leather.
Simone said that most denim companies don’t expand much beyond the jeans category. GM Studio will offer jeans, priced from $189 to $220, and there will be denim pieces throughout the collection. Ready-to-wear will include silk blouses, dress shirts and denim shirts, $150 to $350, and velvet and woven dresses, $280 to $400. Leather saddlebags, clutches and totes will communicate utility and luxury, while jewelry will be rendered in silver and leather.
“Georges, Armand and I had a meeting and we [discovered] we had a passion for vintage,” Simone said. “I love vintage and denim. The two together are the perfect combination. We said, ‘We should make a collection that reflects the love for denim and vintage and is well made. Everything is manufactured in L.A. and crafted by the hands of artisans.”
Simone said GM Studio is using local laundries for T-shirts made with indigo. “We want to improve the quality of manufacturing,” she said. “The brand has nothing to do with mass production. Everything is being done in limited runs. It’s luxury basics.
“Fashion has taken steps back in time with fads from all over the board,” Simone added. “Retro styles have paved the way for designers to create with inspiration from the past, but with a touch of new flavor.”
The GM Studio collection riffs on styles from the early Eighties and Nineties, but it’s definitely not a literal take on the decades.
The full GM Studio collection will be launched in September. Simone said the company was getting inquiries from showrooms and retailers, so it will introduce a group of denim and T-shirts in July. Exactly where the brand will be sold in terms of brick-and-mortar is still up in the air. “We’re talking about e-commerce because we believe it’s the future of retail,” Simone said, with a Web site expected to be launch in time for the fall collection. “We are just at the beginning, but lately we’ve been thinking that maybe we’ll open a few store locations in Los Angeles and New York and sell to some boutiques. As far as department stores, we don’t know yet.”
Simone, who spent eight years as Guess’ design director before leaving in February, said, “I was ready to jump on a new adventure. I’ve been collecting vintage for a long time. I moved to a loft because I need space. Georges walked in and said, ‘You should just do a collection.’ It’s not about typical vintage. I’m making it a little bit different.”