LOS ANGELES — Hand-beaded patterns, hand-sewn appliques and hand-dyed clothes are a few of the old school design traits found on creations of Rozae Nichols.
In a new school world filled with lickety-split demands, however, Nichols has launched A Common Thread. In its second season, the fall line of 72 camisoles, skirts, T-shirts, cardigans, dresses and belts is a spirited collection of mixed-media, raw-edged pieces for the opulent resort lifestyle. Free of many buttons and zippers, the tattered and distressed items from obi wrap cardigans with cloisonne sequins to color-blocked prairie skirts are easily packable and washable.
Equal parts Moroccan, Native American and Asian in color and feeling, the styles also include ombre sequined wrap cardigans and vintage-striped corduroy jackets. Dangly sequins, hand-sewn coral and embroidered florals are signature embellishments of the line, designed by Stephanie Tran. Tran was Nichols’ design assistant for eight years. Wholesale price points range from $39 for tops to $134 for dresses, a cost-savings achieved by producing the product in India.
Retailers have embraced A Common Thread for its versatility. So far, 350 have picked it up, including Traffic here, By George in Austin and Selfridges in London.
“We’ve had great sell-throughs because it’s such value for the money and can be worn in many ways,” said Carl Dias, the women’s buyer for the three Traffic stores, which also carries the Rozae Nichols line sold to celebrities such as Christina Aguilera, Janet Jackson and Cindy Crawford by way of their stylists.
Handbags and home accessories are planned for the line, Nichols said, but rapid growth isn’t the goal for her and Tony Graham, with whom she partnered in 1996 to manage the business. The duo have quietly built their business without much fanfare. Sales of Rozae Nichols are at $10 million, and A Common Thread is on track to hit $4 million in first-year sales.
Nichols has maintained steady sales with her eponymous line for 12 years. Her handcrafted wares, featuring proprietary prints in a collision of patterns and hand-wrought embellishments, have built a following among 267 stores, including Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Stacey Todd in Studio City and Traffic.
For fall, the line highlights pieces such as a dictionary printed silk chiffon coat and habotai skirt, tropical wool crinkled slacks, leather apron skirts studded with cooper heads and silk chiffon painted blouses and ladylike cardigans adorned in rock-size jewels. The collection typically retails from $160 to $1,300.
“It’s contemporary, but it’s also artisanal,” said Nichols, who attended Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design and studied graphic design.