Byline: Alice Welsh

NEW YORK — Easel, a manufacturer of contemporary knitwear launched last February, has gotten off to such a good start for KSK International, producer of the line, that the company is already expanding.
For spring ’95, Easel has introduced Cloth by Easel, a group of cotton woven styles to go with the sweaters.
Cloth by Easel made its debut with five styles in 11 colors. The group consists of T-shirts, tanks and a polo. Wholesale prices range from $13 for a tank T-shirt to $16.50 for the polo shirt.
“It’s terrific because people are buying them to wear under the sweaters and the colors match perfectly,” said Linda Trau, head merchandiser for the Easel lines and Beau Tricot, a bridge knitwear line.
“Buyers don’t have to find these styles from another vendor and worry about getting the colors right. We will do more for next fall. It will evolve as we go along.”
Easel’s Spring consists of three groups. One is lingerie inspired with a lot of shine and femininity in frosted pastel rayon-plated cotton. Styles include a short-sleeve crewneck pullover for $39 wholesale, a sleeveless short dress with a rayon ribbon tie for $44 and a long-sleeve V-neck cropped cardigan for $59.
The second group is seven-gauge cotton in washed brights. Colors include raspberry, tangerine and lemon. A scoopneck pullover wholesales for $49 and a crochet bra top is $39. The third group is in cut tape-ribbon yarn, pigtail and a nubby textured yarn. Colors are army green, black, natural and bleached white. A pigtail yarn cardigan is $54, a handknit cable cropped cardigan is $68, a tie-front tank is $29 and a zipper-front halter top is $42.
The first Easel knitwear was shipped Aug. 30 and did about $1.5 million for fall, according to Kenneth Weiss, owner of KSK.
Weiss projects a first-year wholesale volume of $5 million for Easel. The line was sold to 350 accounts for fall, including Barneys New York, Henri Bendel, Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom and Fred Segal.
For fall, Easel showed 25 styles in six colors, with mohair a strong seller, said Trau. Fall wholesale prices average in the mid-$40 range.
Easel’s goal is to take knitwear trends from European designers and adapt them in new yarns at a contemporary price point, said Weiss.
Bergdorf Goodman had an average sell-through on all styles of 56 percent in the first three weeks, said Easel sales director Kerri Miller. Bergdorf declined comment on these figures.
The most popular styles were novelty vests. One with mixed yarns and satin buttons had a 60 percent sell-through; a mohair and chenille cropped vest with a black velvet ribbon tie had a 70 percent sell-through and a baby mohair wide-ribbed pullover vest had a 65 percent sell-through, said Easel’s Miller.
For holiday, Bergdorf had an average 55 percent sell-through after one week, according to Miller. Bestsellers were an angora T-shirt and cropped cardigan in brights, she said.
Barneys’ average sell-through was 50 percent after four weeks on the floor. The most popular styles were the baby mohair vest and handknit mohair tunics, according to Miller.

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