GILMAR TWIST: JACOBS EXITS, SUI INKS DEAL
Byline: Lisa Lockwood
NEW YORK — Marc Jacobs has quietly withdrawn from consulting on The Gilmar Group’s Iceberg line, while Gilmar has strengthened its ties with another American designer, Anna Sui.
Sui, who has been a consultant for Gilmar’s Cento X Cento collection for the past year and a half, has signed a licensing agreement with Milan-based Gilmar for Sui by Anna Sui, a secondary collection, for worldwide distribution.
Designed by Sui, the fall line will be launched March 5 in Milan with a showroom presentation during the women’s ready-to-wear collections.
Jacobs, who consulted on the Iceberg collection for two seasons, didn’t continue for fall 1995.
“I have so much to do here. I haven’t had the time to go back and forth,” Jacobs said Monday. He explained that he wasn’t able to work out a deal with Gilmar to help produce his own line, and with all the work of his collection and licensees, Jacobs couldn’t afford the time away from New York.
“Unless they were doing something with us to help me with my collection, it was too time-consuming and too much travel,” he said.
Sui by Anna Sui will be priced at the same level as Sui’s signature collection, which the designer finances herself. Sui is most noted for her hip, spirited sportswear that often draws on vintage themes. Her collection business generates about $2.5 million in wholesale volume, according to the designer. Besides her wholesale accounts, she has boutiques here and in Los Angeles.
Sui by Anna Sui will comprise mostly classic pieces, or “the essentials” of the season, said Sui, who will collect royalties from sales.
“I always joke with my friends that I’ve been buying the same things for myself forever — the same jacket and the same pants. A lot of what I’m doing are those classics; every season that jacket or those pants change slightly,” said Sui, in a telephone interview.
According to Paolo Gerani, vice president of Gilmar, Sui by Anna Sui will have select distribution. First-year wholesale volume is estimated at $4.5 million worldwide, and the U.S. is expected to account for $1 million of that. Sui will design two collections a year for Gilmar.
The company is negotiating with a sales firm here to carry the line.
Gilmar, an international manufacturer and retailer with a wholesale volume of about $160 million in 1994, produces a number of its own high-end brands. Besides Iceberg and Cento X Cento, it makes Sport Ice, Gerani and Gilmar.
Sui will continue to travel to Milan three times a season.
“Anna is great and lovely to work with and very professional,” said Gerani. “The reaction from the market to Cento X Cento was great, and we asked her [Anna] to do a secondary line of Anna Sui.”
The Sui by Anna Sui collection includes suited looks, dresses, lingerie, outerwear, knitwear and accessories, with a focus on unusual fabrics. Fabrics are wool-based and range from pinstripes and herringbone tweeds to bouclés.
Wholesale prices for Sui by Anna Sui in the U.S. will range from $70 to $95 for skirts; $80 to $95 for pants; $70 to $85 for shirts; $170 to $210 for jackets, and $180 to $220 for dresses.
As Sui explained, she might design a cheerleader skirt for her signature collection, but would offer a black pleated skirt in Sui by Anna Sui. Sui produces her own collection here, but the Sui by Anna Sui collection is made from Italian fabrics and produced in Italy.
Distribution of Sui’s first season will focus on major specialty stores and boutiques in the U.S. and designer boutiques in Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Belgium.
“In the last few years I think the international press has picked up on my name, and quite a few stores have approached us,” said Sui. “I’m limited because I’m small, [but] I wanted to somehow reach those customers.” Sui explained that, after duties and freight, her signature collection becomes prohibitive for many European retailers. However, since the secondary line is produced in Italy, the prices, in essence, will be more affordable to those stores.
She said Gilmar approached her, and is financing the secondary line. Sui said there are no plans for Gilmar to finance her signature line.
The Gilmar line will be kicked off in August with an ad campaign featuring Amber Valletta. The ads will be photographed by Sui’s close friend, Steven Meisel, and styled by Sui, and will appear in U.S. and European fashion magazines.