YOUNG CONTEMPORARY: THE NEXT LEVEL

Byline: Anne D’Innocenzio

NEW YORK — Contemporary sportswear firms are capitalizing on a good thing.
Banking on their star status at retail, they plan to develop in-store shops and freestanding stores and to build business on the international scene, according to several firms showing at WWDMagic.
For example, Love Amour, a Los Angeles firm, has developed a loyal following for its original designs since coming on the scene 2 1/2 years ago. Now, owner Richard Tuil wants to build on that success by opening his own stores, starting in October.
Tuil said he’s working on deals for sites on Madison Avenue here and in Los Angeles.
Love Amour’s summer line includes an athletic-inspired group in green, red and pale yellow, as well as a brightly colored dress line.
The line, which is currently in 500 accounts, including Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, is expected to reach a wholesale volume of $6 million this year.
Poleci, a six-year-old contemporary firm in Los Angeles, also wants to open its own stores within the next year or so. The stores will have the same gallery feeling as its new showroom, said Shea Sell, a sales executive, who described the look as “very clean and white.”
To expand its business, the firm is also turning to the overseas market. About 10 percent of sales is currently from overseas, in particular Japan and Hong Kong, and Sell said that Poleci wants to build that to 50 percent over the next few years.
Poleci is also working with department stores to develop in-store shops.
“The market is very strong, and we want to take advantage of that,” she said.
Classique, Los Angeles, which offers handpainted novelty two-piece soft dressing, plans to add more sales representatives. It has four reps, including one in Atlanta, two in California and one in Denver, but it wants to hire a voice in the Midwest, according to Jamie Fox, national sales manager.
Last year, the firm posted a volume of $2 million, but Fox said sales are on a pace to double this year.
Aftershock, which markets Aftershock sportswear and Nicole Alexander career clothes, is building its international business as a way of increasing sales.
“We want to sell to Japan and Europe,” said Sal Hagooli, president. “We are also looking at showing at some of the trade shows overseas.”
Last year, the firm posted a wholesale volume of $2.5 million and is looking for an increase of 10 percent this year.
Hagooli noted the company aims to pick up more specialty chains at WWDMagic.
Michael Keefer, president of Love Tent Inc., which markets Love Tent, a resort line; True Love, a hip misses’ line, and Outer Limits, a misses’ line, is developing its business through specialty stores.
The line is priced from $28 to $58, he said. Last year, the San Francisco-based firm posted $3.6 million in sales and expects to generate $4 million this year.
For some of the new people on the block, business is still difficult.
Urva Mehta, owner of Noir, which opened for business here a year ago, said breaking into the stores isn’t easy.
“It’s hard to be a new player,” she said. “I’ve been making a lot of cold calls to buyers.”
Still, the line is in 125 accounts, and volume is expected to hit $2 million this year, she said.
Mehta noted that in order to boost visibility, she is showing at trade shows and will be adding more representatives. The line wholesales from $15 to $75.
For fall and summer, the fabrics include linen, pique, gingham and lots of lace.

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