This story first appeared in the February 12, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Serial fashion entrepreneur Danny Guez is adding another brand to his portfolio. After launching William Rast with Justin Timberlake, Abbot + Main with Kellan Lutz, Caelum with Brooke Burke, and premium jean brands People’s Liberation and Dylan George, the denim veteran is venturing into men’s sportswear this fall with One Bxwd.
Teaming with Gustavo Garibay, who previously designed sportswear for Jacob Davis and also for the men’s divisions at Seven For All Mankind and Guess, Guez is combining the comfort and mobility expected of activewear and giving it a polished look.
The question Guez kept asking himself was: “Why can’t we bring a European aesthetic to an American fit?”
“We admire The Kooples,” said Guez, who serves as chief executive officer of Boulevard Brands, the Los Angeles-based company that owns Dylan George, Caelum and Abbot + Main. “I know what Middle America wants, but we’re giving it a European edge that consumers can understand.”
Added Garibay: “We want it to have the elements of activewear but read sportswear. You’re not wearing your tracksuit or gym outfit on a daily basis.”
The styles that Garibay and Guez will show in the Tents at Project include button-up shirts with an abstract geometric print, T-shirts made from mercerized cotton or linen-polyester blends, varsity jackets and jogger pants cut from bonded jersey, white textured pullover sweaters and jeans that boast 35 percent stretch. A palette of black, burgundy, navy, white and gray adds to the Nineties vibe that runs through the inaugural collection.
To be sure, One Bxwd isn’t another denim brand from Guez. Denim represents only 15 percent of the entire line, which wholesales from $78 to $500. Available in slim, straight and skinny fits, the jeans stay clean with a raw finish or simple rinse and also come fully destroyed with rip-and-repair touches. Targeting retailers such as Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s, Guez aims to hit first-year sales of $5 million to $9 million.
Still, Guez can’t stay out of the women’s denim market for long. He plans to ship a small number of women’s jeans sold under the One Bxwd brand in June to follow with a full women’s line in spring 2016.
“With the denim brands that are in department stores, sportswear is a second thought,” he said. “For us, sportswear is a first thought.”
— KHANH T.L. TRAN
It’s been about a decade since the Adolfo name graced a pair of jeans. But that’s about to change.
Adolfo License Group chairman Paul Wattenberg has signed a deal with jeanswear veteran Izzy Heinfling of Denim Jeans Styles Inc. to relaunch Adolfo Jeans for fall. The collection will make its debut at MAGIC Men’s in Las Vegas.
Heinfling has been in the denim business for decades, creating the Sergio Valente brand in the Eighties and Major Damage in the early Nineties. His company also has a robust private-label business today, working with many of the country’s top retailers. For Adolfo Jeans, which marks his return to the branded jeans business, Heinfling is working closely with his son David, who serves as sales director, to inject youth and energy into the collection.
Izzy Heinfling said the jeans will be offered in three fits, many of which will offer stretch. He said he has been working with his mills over the past year to develop a new knit denim for the line, and will also use a rayon blend and cotton spandex to ensure the jeans have comfort attributes.
“We’re really focusing on stretch fabrics,” Izzy said, adding that the jeans will sport several washes and finishes, including sandblasting and abrasions for the more fashion-forward models.
In terms of color palette, the jeans will be offered in a range of blue hues as well as blacks and grays. There’s also an assortment of heavy twill canvas pants in “fall colors,” such as rust, he said, and there are five versions of joggers, which should address the ath-leisure trend that’s popular in the market, David Heinfling said. Everything will have the Adolfo lion crest somewhere on the garment.
But what Adolfo hopes will set the collection apart is its price. “We’re offering a premium jean at an affordable price,” David said. Retail prices will range from $40 to $55, and the brand is targeting department stores such as Macy’s, Belk and Bon-Ton.
The jeans are expected to appeal to a man who is “a little older, but still wants to look young,” David said.
“Jeans are the bread and butter of the apparel business,” Wattenberg said, noting that the customer who wears Adolfo suits and sport coats has been clamoring for the more-casual addition. “We’ve shifted Adolfo [tailored clothing] to a younger, slimmer silhouette, so we thought it would be a timely thing to add jeans that would go with these jackets and the slim shirts, trousers and sweaters we’re doing. It’s cool today to wear a blazer with jeans.”
Adolfo overall is a $55 million business, with men’s accounting for about 80 percent of sales.
— JEAN E. PALMIERI
Lubiam can trace its roots all the way back to 1898, when 16-year-old Luigi Bianchi left his home in Mantova, Italy, to take up the tailoring trade in Turin. When he returned in 1911, he opened his own made-to-measure clothing shop, and in 1941, he changed the company name to Lubiam, which is based on an acronym: LUigi BIAnchi Mantova.
Today, Lubiam is run by the fourth generation of the founder, and the brand boasts that it is the oldest fashion company in the world to be owned and run by the same family. It continues to be known for offering high-quality Italian men’s wear with a focus on tailored clothing. Several years ago, the brand launched L.B.M. 1911, a line of soft jackets, deconstructed outerwear and pants for the American market that is targeted to a younger man. It is being shown at Liberty Fairs for the first time this season.
Marc Spero, vice president of operations for Lubiam USA, said while the brand has built its reputation on unconstructed, garment-dyed and garment-washed clothing, it is branching out into “untreated” goods as well this season, offering sport coats, suits and outerwear in fabrics that are neither washed nor dyed from Biella mills in Italy. Jersey options are also available.
“The collection is about 50 percent larger,” Spero said, adding that a new trouser category with an “emphasis” on print and pattern has also been added.
L.B.M. 1911 is sold in about 100 U.S. specialty stores, and Spero said the independent retailer remains the brand’s primary target. “We’re going to keep it that way for now,” he said, noting that the collection is carried in retailers as “diverse” as the upscale Forum Group members as well as younger, denim-focused stores.
Prices for the cotton garment-dyed offerings range from $695 to $725, wool pieces — either treated or untreated — are $795 to $850, trousers are $195 to $295 and outerwear ranges from $995 to $1,295.
Since its founding by Massimo Osti in 1975 in Italy, C.P. Company has created a following for functional garments that offer military and workwear references updated with the latest fabrics and finishes. The outerwear and other lifestyle products are especially popular with an urban customer, particularly the brand’s signature “Mille Miglia,” or Goggle jacket, which made its first appearance in 1988 as an homage to the Mille Miglia classic-car race.
Now owned by businessman Enzo Fusco of FGF Industry, C.P. Company is making its first appearance at the Liberty Fairs show this season as part of the Organico showroom.
Mark Ernst, who reps the line at Organico, said the main thrust of the fall collection is an updated selection of fabrics including Limonta, a water-resistant woven jaquard that C.P. Company is offering in a variety of heritage patterns such as plaids and herringbones digitally printed on the fabric.
“For me, as for Massimo Osti before me,” Fusco said, “fabrics are the real strength of any garment, especially in collections like that of C.P. Company. The fabrics in these clothes are still contemporary because they are timeless and not restricted by fashion.”
The Goggle jacket, which features a half mask with built-in goggles integrated into the hood — a piece inspired by jet pilot helmets — remains a key piece within the line. Ernst said that under FGF, variations of the jacket are now being offered, with the lens on the sleeves or the chest. “It’s branding,” he said.
In addition to outerwear, the offering includes fleece and knitwear, some in mixed-media combinations such as a nylon-and-microfiber tone-on-tone bomber jacket and a down jacket with knit sleeves. Casual shirts, casual and dress pants round out the offering.
Ernst said the C.P. Company collection is targeted at an active guy who’s looking for one wardrobe to wear to work and on the weekend. Outerwear retails for $895 to $1,500, while sportswear sells for $195 to $695, and the goal is to sell the brand into specialty stores whose customers embrace that philosophy.
Scott Kaylin is no stranger to the apparel business. For years, he toiled in the dress business on Seventh Avenue before scrapping it all to follow his heart. An avid cyclist, Kaylin merged his passion for the sport with his experience in international garment sourcing and created Champion System in 2004. Over the past decade, the custom technical apparel company has expanded into other sports, including triathlons, running and rowing. It works with more than 10,000 teams and clubs in the U.S. and has grown to 24 offices worldwide.
Now, Kaylin has created a branded line, Ligne 8, a functional lifestyle label for the commuting city dweller. Targeted to the active man and woman, the line blends the technology gained from Kaylin’s experience in the cycling world with his fashion industry expertise. Ligne 8 apparel is made from high-tech fabrics in classic silhouettes — but with a subtle twist. The men’s Copenhagen Soft Shell Jacket, for example, features an action back that allows for more range of motion and an extended tail for full coverage while commuting. It will retail for $480.
The line’s pants sit lower on the front waist while the back rise is higher for extra coverage. Details such as internal gripper tape keeps the shirt tucked in, and hip pockets are slanted to ensure contents don’t fall out. Reflective binding and trims help with visibility.
“Ligne 8 was created for the active lifestyle,” said garment industry veteran Cecilia Allen, who oversees the collection from Hong Kong as chief executive officer. “[It] allows a person to explore life, in tailored style and comfort.” She added that each piece offers “high-end finishes and trims [and] classic styling, but with unique features.”
Other key pieces include the Ferrara Blazer, which offers a tailored fit but with slightly longer sleeves to accommodate cyclists. Retailing for $370, it is manufactured from Schoeller stretch-cotton fabrics that offer water and stain resistance. The Seville Trouser is a contemporary slim fit with a hidden gusset and an antichafe lining.
The women’s offering includes the Anson Jumpsuit, which retails for $248 and offers an alternative to separates dressing, as well as a classic black pant that is water repellent, offers four-way stretch and abrasion resistance.
Ligne 8’s first collection, which will be shown at Capsule, will encompass 60 pieces, including a Japanese denim jean with a four-way stretch gusset, reflective tape and a waterproof finish that retails for $128. The brand hopes to sign up no more than two retailers in each major city around the world.
“The details make it functional and fashionable,” Kaylin said of the line, adding that he believes Ligne 8 “can create a new category.”
J BRAND’S MENSWEAR COLLECTION
J Brand is angling for style symmetry by launching a men’s sportswear line.
Three years after it diversified from denim to sportswear in its women’s business, the Los Angeles-based company is readying to offer 100 stockkeeping units this fall for a subbrand called Menswear Collection. Among the styles to be shown at the Tents at Project are a jacquard intarsia sweater in merino wool, a black fleece sweatshirt with a zipped hem, a denim jean jacket printed with green pigment swirled in a camo pattern, a dark indigo button-up shirt and lambskin leather jogging pants.
Not only do these sportswear pieces that retail from $68 to $1,350 allow for easier styling and merchandising within the men’s grouping, but they also strengthen a cohesiveness with the women’s business. For instance, a wool-blend pullover sweater dip-dyed to fade from gray to green is available in both men’s and women’s sizes.
“It’s a dual-gender brand,” said J Brand president Lynne Koplin. “There has to be symmetry for men and women.”
This launch is the first major initiative under the direction of Mary Bruno, who joined the Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. unit as head of design last fall after serving as a design executive at Ralph Lauren, Levi’s and Earl Jean. One of her first hires in November was Michael Abbey, a former designer at surf-inspired brand M.Nii and premium denim label Mother, who oversaw J Brand’s sportswear offshoot as head of men’s design. For the inaugural collection, Abbey worked in a neutral palette and channeled a utilitarian but sporty vibe. “We actually have a really good momentum going,” he said.
To be sure, the women’s business eclipses the men’s division at J Brand. Although growing at a quicker rate than the mature women’s market, men’s makes up only 10 percent of J Brand’s total revenue. Of that share, Koplin expects sportswear to contribute between 10 and 15 percent of men’s sales, as her strategy for distribution doesn’t replicate the retail map for its jeans business. “It’s controlled growth,” she said, noting target retailers include Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdale’s.
Plus, she hopes to open J Brand’s first freestanding U.S. store within two years The company also has learned what not to do following its entry into the women’s sportswear market.
“We learned that the ready-to-wear component has to relate back to the denim,” Koplin said. “And that’s probably the most important thing, not from the merchandising standpoint. The guy who wears the jeans has to be the guy who wears sportswear.”