Faces Apparel is taking a high-tech approach to ath-leisure fashion.
Known for basic but responsibly made blank T-shirts that retail for up to $15, the Fountain Valley, Calif.-based company is moving into fashion knits with Cocona Inc.’s performance fabric that captures and releases moisture. It’s integrating 37.5 active particle technology in cotton T-shirts, polo shirts and Henley tops as part of a new line, dubbed Ultimate Collection, launching on June 3 with retail prices ranging from $47 to $75. Although sticking to a neutral palette of white, heather gray and black, Faces Apparel is adding stylistic details such as articulated stitching and colorblocking. In line with the social message that has guided the company since its founding three years ago, the entire line is made in the U.S.
“Everybody wants comfort,” said Michael Lew, Faces Apparel’s founder who came from a career steeped in fabric development and technical design, including developing outerwear for Tumi. “Imagine having that technology and moving your moisture from your perspiration and turning it into vapor. It means the cotton items you wear stay drier. And staying drier means you’re more comfortable.”
Faces Apparel joins a list of athletic companies — including Adidas, Under Armour, Bauer Hockey and Salomon — that have integrated Cocona’s 37.5 active particle technology to capture and release moisture vapor in the garments. Its use of the performance fabric indicates the next phase of the strengthening ath-leisure fashion trend, which, until now, has offered primarily athletic silhouettes cut from neoprene, Spandex and mesh.
“I am a firm believer that performance and comfort are much-needed in the fashion arena,” said Scott Branscum, executive vice president at Cocona, the Boulder, Colo., company that created the 37.5 technology.
With Ultimate Collection, Faces Apparel isn’t pushing sports. “We’re kind of looking for versatility,” said Amy Wang Liao, its chief operating officer. “You can wear it to work under a blazer or under a sweater.”
With retail prices that are more than triple that of its core line called Premium Collection, Faces Apparel is scoping new competitors such as Vince, James Perse and Splendid, beyond current rivals like Bella + Canvas and American Apparel. Lew said the goal is to increase sales from under $1 million to between $5 and $6 million over the next two years. To prep for the line’s debut to consumers, the company is relaunching its e-commerce site, also on June 3.
Since it has a window of two years to license the 37.5 technology and be first to market, Faces Apparel is also rushing to introduce ponte, French terry and stretch woven textiles for fall 2016. Beanies and travel bags are also in the pipeline for next year.
“Our Ultimate Collection isn’t about the volume,” Lew said. “We’re really trying to focus on the higher market.”