Creative director Cecilia Bonstrom took a break from casting Zadig & Voltaire’s ready-to-wear show, which took place on Monday afternoon, to discuss the brand’s return to New York Fashion Week and a series of collaborations, including a hookup with the NBA that will be seen on the runway. She was joined by Christopher Tate, chief executive officer and board member, who said that Zadig & Voltaire will open 10 stores in 2019, and its wholesale business is also expanding.
“We’re kind of going against what people are saying. Wholesale is up 46 percent year over year. Same-store sales are up 26 percent in the last six months,” said Tate. “We opened a store in Palm Beach and it’s done so well right out of the box. That gives us license to open more stores.”
Zadig & Voltaire is known for testing new store concepts frequently, scrapping ideas that don’t show promise quickly and trying again when an opportunity presents itself. The retailer unveiled a Manhattan men’s wear-only store (at 104 Grand Street), which has fueled growth of the men’s category, which logged a 78 percent increase year-over-year. “We want to find more ways to expand men’s wear,” Tate said.
With strength in sneakers and handbags, the brand converted its unit at 153 Mercer Street into an accessories-only pop-up, following the increase of accessory sales by 38 percent versus last year. That growth occurred without an increase in distribution, Tate said, adding that the location could permanently house the accessories category. “We felt we needed to give it a real stage,” he said. “This is the beginning. There’s a lot more to come.”
“We’ve been growing accessories every season,” Bonstrom said, adding, “We’re using the brand as a vehicle for promoting other talent. I love finding new blood. I met this girl who made the earrings I’m wearing at a dinner. We’re selling her brass shooting star earrings.”
Jormi Graterol, an artist with a bold, graffiti-like style, who left her mark in red and black brush strokes at Zadig’s Meatpacking District store at 831 Washington Street, is now working at the Mercer Street store, personalizing accessories. Bonstrom said a young Spanish influencer at the brand’s Girls Can Do Anything fragrance launch in Barcelona handed her an envelope with her art inside. “I put one print on silk fabric and used two other prints on T-shirts,” she said.
Bonstrom said she had “a very clear idea for the season, which is about masculinity, femininity, sports and chic. I thought, ‘Let’s go all the way to the masculine side.’ I worked with Italian and French wool to make the collection really elevated.”
The overarching theme is “chic and destroyed with smoking shirts that are wrinkled and raw-edged sweaters, including one with random holes and covered in Swarovski crystals. I want to walk a fine line and push it even further.”
In Bonstrom’s hands, team logos aren’t treated as if they’re holy graphics. There’s a mashup of Bulls, Bears, Hornets, Warriors and Lakers patches embroidered along with a stylized Zadig & Voltaire logo on a black sweater. “We’re using the NBA logos on knits, blazers, jackets and beanies,” Bonstrom said. “I chose the teams based on the [look of] the emblem.”
The NBA collaboration will continue with a more extensive spring 2019 collection, and Zadig may introduce other collaborators to the NBA project. “The NBA is at the center in America of cultural relevance. It’s the convergence of fashion, music and streetwear,” Tate said.
Bonstrom also collaborated this season with Schott, a legacy men’s wear brand known for its jackets. The leather bomber Perfecto jacket she and Schott created for Zadig & Voltaire is a mix of nylon, black leather and red ribbed knit details. “It’s a collector’s item,” the designer said, noting that the price is $1,500.