Ports 1961 is set to make a splash in men’s wear.
This story first appeared in the December 9, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The New York-based designer label designed by Fiona Cibani will launch a men’s collection for fall 2011, with an emphasis on tailored clothing, outerwear, dress furnishings and knits. The company will introduce the collection with a runway show in Milan during men’s fashion week in January.
“I felt like it was the right time for men’s wear and our clients were asking for it,” said Cibani. “We really believe in men’s, and think it’s necessary to be in this market. We want it to be the same caliber and have the same sophistication as our women’s collection. We are going to nurture it, and we want it to be equal in size to the women’s business.”
Ports 1961 has built a growing women’s business on the strength of earthy but elegant designs, with an emphasis on luxury fabrics and elegant draping. A similarly modern, sculptural approach is apparent in the men’s wear collection, such as in a plush, double-face camel-hair topcoat or lightweight Mackintosh raincoat with zippered sleeve cuffs.
Suits come in both a structured and unstructured shoulder, as well as in both two- and three-button models. The company tapped Italy’s Belvest to manufacture the suits and tailored outerwear.
“We are working with the best of the best factories for everything in the line,” said Ian Hylton, creative director for men’s wear, who joined Ports 1961 last year to spearhead the men’s launch. Hylton was previously a men’s designer at Arnold Brant and earlier in his career was men’s fashion director at Canada’s Holt Renfrew.
The fall collection has about 51 full runway looks, including an expansive range of accessories, such as leather bags, gloves and scarves. Suits will retail for about $1,600, coats for $2,000 and knitwear for $450 to $1,000.
Everything in the men’s collection is made in Italy, unlike the women’s line, which is manufactured in both China and Europe. “Men’s is different from women’s. It’s very structured and I thought it was important to have it made in Italy,” said Cibani.
The company is planning to open men’s-only shops and is currently scouting locations in New York, Paris and Milan. The first men’s store could open in as soon as six months, said Cibani. The collection will be wholesaled to high-end department and specialty stores as well.
Ports 1961 currently operates six women’s stores in New York, L.A., Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Hong Kong. A seventh lease has been inked for a Paris store in the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Rue Saint-Honoré, which is still under construction and set to open in the middle of 2011.
The label’s key U.S. retail partners in women’s include Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.
Ports 1961 and the more casual, sportswear-based Ports International label fall under the umbrella of Hong Kong-based Ports Design Ltd., a publicly traded company. Alfred Chan, Cibani’s husband, is the chief executive officer and managing director of Ports Design Ltd.
For the six months ended June 30, Ports Design Ltd. posted total sales of 789 million yuan, or about $118.5 million at current exchange, up 7.9 percent from the year-ago period. The company operates 276 Ports International stores in more than 60 cities in China, which represents the bulk of the business.
In July, Cibani’s younger sister, Tia Cibani, exited the company to focus on her children’s wear label, Kico Kids. Tia Cibani was previously the creative director of Ports 1961.