NAHDREE’S SOCIAL CALENDAR
Byline: Arthur Friedman
NEW YORK — Now that the lines he inherited from the merger with The He-Ro Group have been integrated into The Nahdree Group, Hong J. Han is hungry for more.
Han, president and chief executive officer of Nahdree, said, “Now, we’re a major player in the social occasion and eveningwear market.”
In an interview at the firm’s headquarters at 530 Seventh Avenue, Han said, “Each label has its own character and strength. This is the first time I’m running a public company, so that adds a lot of pressure. But we have a good team, and I know that given the opportunity, I can help the company continue to grow.”
Han said Nahdree will have sales of about $70 million this year. He-Ro posted sales of $46.7 million last year.
“We’re still relatively small in terms of volume, but we are the number one resource for social occasion and eveningwear,” Han said. “We can grow by acquiring new companies or opening new divisions in other categories, such as daytime dresses and sportswear.”
“The merger gave us good names in Black Tie by Oleg Cassini and Niteline, and it also gave us balanced production, since the Nahdree lines are primarily produced domestically and the He-Ro lines will continue to be imported, mainly because they have so much beading.”
Han’s first venture under the new public company is a line of evening separates dubbed Nahdree Lifestyle, which he calls “sportswear for the night.”
It’s the company’s seventh division and the one Han feels has the most potential. He projects first-year sales of $3.5 million for the line, which is a spinoff of the firm’s NNP private label. NNP had been making similar evening separates for major department and specialty stores.
Nahdree Lifestyle, run by divisional vice president Vincent Mignon, features coordinated ensembles for day-into-evening and work-to-weekend dressing. The line is designed by Kristin Michaloski, who had been designing for the NNP division. Mignon, who also heads the Niteline division, was formerly president of the Bob Mackie licensed division of He-Ro, one of many former He-Ro sales executives now at Nahdree.
“Nahdree Lifestyle is Mr. Han’s vision,” Mignon said. “It’s meant for the baby boomer who wants to dress more casually at night. We’re marketing it to evening and sportswear departments, with a low bridge price point.”
The company’s biggest division is Nah Nah Collections, the 10-year-old firm’s original offering. Headed by Mathew Metzger and designed by Heather Wright, the moderate-priced line features mother-of-the-bride and one-piece and two-piece social occasion dresses.
Another core division is Victor Costa by Nahdree. The better-to-bridge suit and dress collection was established as a complement to Nah Nah in 1992.
In 1995, Victor Costa joined the company as the division’s head designer after closing his own signature firm, and the collection was renamed to reflect that.
Alice Katz, formerly president of the Fabrice division of He-Ro, is divisional vice president of Victor Costa. For fall, Katz said a “luxe option” has been added to the line in the form of fur-trimmed styles and evening separates priced slightly higher than the main collection.
Last July, Han added another tier to the Nahdree banner when he hired Constance Saunders and put her name on a signature label, Constance Saunders by Nahdree. While Costa concentrates on eveningwear, Saunders’s focus is day-into-evening dresses, suits and ensembles.
The Saunders division, run by Jim Piscatello, is on track to achieve first-year sales of about $5 million, Han noted. Saunders had been running her own signature line at Depeche Mode, and Piscatello said he’s been able to continue some of that business and pick up new accounts as well.
“Niteline by Nahdree is our young story,” Mignon said. “It was strictly prom and pageant driven, but we’ve added novelties such as chain mail trim, burnout satin, tone-on-tone velvets, crochet and sparkle beading. Stretch fabrics are also important in making Niteline more contemporary.”
Black Tie, a perennial favorite in eveningwear departments, is adding more day-into-evening looks in an attempt to expand its volume, said Sophia Vazac, divisional vice president.
“The label is so well known, we want to evolve it into a full dress collection,” Vazac said.
David Minka, who has been head designer for Black Tie since 1987, will continue in that role at Nahdree. The same is true of Christyne Forte, who has been head designer for Niteline since 1986.
In addition to new offerings, Han would like to increase the global reach of the company, which already sells in the U.K., Canada, South America and the Middle East. Han also sees company-owned full-price stores and outlets on the horizon.