Eric Kim, the founding chief executive officer and designer of Monarchy who resigned from the label last week, is to unveil his high-end contemporary men’s label, Mik Cire, next month during New York Fashion Week.

This story first appeared in the January 15, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Mik Cire, which is the designer’s name spelled backwards, represents Kim’s move away from the jeans and T-shirts that became his specialty — and sometimes limited his reach. Funding Mik Cire himself and working alone, Kim said his goal is to design edgy, clean, comfortable fashion for an evolving luxury market. The launch is scheduled for Feb. 11 at Bryant Park.

“In this economic climate, there is a real need in men’s wear for a luxury brand that is priced in between a Rick Owens or a Dior, and a Diesel; a brand that caters to the fashionable, high-end consumer market but will not break the bank,” Kim said.

After studying design at Los Angeles’ Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Kim, 37, worked at streetwear companies, including Archangel and Urgent Gear. In 2004, he founded Monarchy, a premium denim and contemporary sportswear label, which was sold three years later to Hartmarx Corp., the predecessor to HMX LLC. When he resigned from Monarchy, the Los Angeles-based brand’s annual sales totaled about $30 million.

“I’m trying to push out of this whole denim bubble,” Kim said. “[Mik Cire’s] not a T-shirt-driven line by any means.”

Dipping into a dark, muted color palette for the Italian leather, denim and wool-cashmere blends he picked for Mik Cire, Kim created 75 styles that are slim and fitted with a slight military influence. Retail prices range from $200 for a polished pair of five-pocket jeans to $250 for wool-cashmere trousers and more than $1,200 for a leather jacket. The inaugural fall collection also will feature an array of bags and shoes, including messenger bags, briefcases and duffel bags made of crocodile skin and pony hair, as well as leather boots.

Although Kim hasn’t determined prices yet for the accessories, he said he’s open to modifying them for his entire line in light of the weak economy and set his first-year sales goal at $8.5 million. Kim is targeting retailers such as Barneys New York, Bloomingdale’s, Saks and better boutiques. He said his customers span a wide demographic but share one characteristic: a love for high fashion.

“He would have to understand fashion to really get it,” Kim said of his customer. “It’s not for the masses.”

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