Byline: ALEXANDRA BELLAK / KIMBERLY KEILY / ALICE WOO
NEW YORK — The accessories world has finally joined the information superhighway. Accessories company 2B!, which just expanded into sportswear, is putting images of its clothing line on the Internet, allowing distributors, overseas clients and the public to order clothes by computer.
Maximilian Gross and Rosanna Lewis, the design duo who founded 2B! at 270 Lafayette Street, are branching out into activewear after three years of success with their funky, high tech, weather-resistant hats and caps.
“It makes sense to go from accessories to clothing and complete the cycle,” said Gross. Along with Barbara Kramer Enterprises, a sales showroom that represents Gaultier jeans and Product, Gross and Lewis have been working hard at manufacturing their spring ’96 line of activewear. The clothing lines for men and women are made up of vibrant, body-hugging, athletic wear in Lycra spandex, nylon and tricot. Inspired by the Olympics and school-gym clothing, the women’s line consists of colorful, sanded nylon tennis skirts with black piping, bright nylon and tricot pull-on shorts and nylon and tricot V-neck mesh crop tops in an assortment of colors. The clothing is perfect for Casual Fridays, club-hopping or working out.
Gross says the line is a response to the ever-changing fashion market: “Couture is dead as a dinosaur. I see sportswear made of new fabrics dominating the market and the future of fashion.” After Gross and Lewis showed their debut collection at Bryant Park, buyers from Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s picked up the line. Retail prices are $34 for sanded nylon and Lycra drawstring shorts, $67.50 for a tricot nylon slipdress and $90 for a woven Supplex nylon, zip-front jacket. 2B! shouldn’t have a problem attracting consumers to its new clothing line. The accessories, especially the funky hats and caps, maintain a strong following among fashion editors, models and celebrities, including the likes of JFK Jr. and The Beastie Boys.
IN THE BAG
NEW YORK — Rafe Totengco may be a new kid in the neighborhood of accessories designers, but his unique style is causing quite a stir. He’s already collaborated with Jussara Lee and John Bartlett on their runway shows. And he has only been in business a year.
The line began small, with only skinny vinyl belts. Totengco then expanded into chokers, watches and bags with the same urban flair and now sells to stores like T.G. 170, Fred Segal Flair, Funkeesentials and Urban Outfitters. He is represented by Supplements, New York.
“I find myself getting carried away designing the bags,” he says. “And if I’m not designing, then I’m at the thrift stores buying more bags for inspiration.”
The bags he creates are structured and strong on detail. He won’t skimp on things like adjustable straps, buckles and interesting linings, which aim to surprise. For example, a sophisticated satin evening bag may be lined with fuchsia satin or even a leopard print.
For summer, there are pastel cotton canvas totes and microfiber, mock crocodile and pearlized pastels for his other bags. Totengco also offers a range of styles from T-strap shoulder bags to boxy evening clutches and lunch box shaped bags. Wholesale prices range from $23 to $70.
Totengco visualizes his customer as a “confident, successful individual who has a constantly changing schedule. But she has to have a wonderful sense of humor.”
NEW YORK — For Kristine Miller, designing bags is a matter of simple necessity.
As a Los Angeles wardrobe stylist, she was constantly in search of the perfect bag to accommodate her hectic lifestyle. “I would find bags that were okay, but did not meet all of my requirements functionally, stylishly or financially,” she says. Figuring she was not the only one to have this dilemma, Miller launched Trixie Marie about a year and a half ago.
Miller creates trendy, clean shapes and mixes different fabrics to create a multitextured look. “For spring, I’ve incorporated patent vinyl to some of my laminated linen bags. I’ve even experimented with Lucite handles, which I adore,” she says. Miller’s summer collection also includes large patent vinyl totes as well as makeup bags.
Nostalgia is a key influence to Trixie Marie’s style, especially old films like “The Thomas Crown Affair.” Even Barbie is a source of inspiration: Trixie Marie’s summer collection includes shiny bags that are splashed with a bubble-gum-pink color. One of Miller’s priorities is to create quality bags at affordable prices, so she keeps wholesale prices in the $10 to $42 range. Currently, the Trixie Marie line is in Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters and Fred Segal. She is represented by Jay Ottenstein in Los Angeles and Simply Chic in New York.
NEW YORK — Accessories designer Jeffrey Marcus has a material focus. For his three-year-old line of accessories, Jinx, the designer gets ideas from his materials.
Though best known for its streetwear hats made out of anything from terry cloth to clear vinyl, the hottest selling Jinx item is a transparent wallet made from textured vinyl originally used for carpet runner. The line also includes belts and barrettes.
It all started while Marcus was studying fashion illustration. He used to redesign baseball caps by adding embroidery to them. “People started asking me where I bought my hat,” he says.
Although he doesn’t want to limit its appeal, Marcus does admit that his merchandise is designed for a 20-something crowd, often artists, who want quality, but affordability. Marcus says he would eventually like to do a complete line — from knapsacks to lamps. “I want to allow my curiosity to travel to different items,” he says.
Jinx merchandise is sold at Antique Boutique, Screaming Mimi’s and Patricia Field, and it retails for $20 to $60.