MARY GOES MODERATE

Byline: Merri Grace McLeroy

MIAMI — Mary McFadden, the designer known for her hand-painted silks and ornate eveningwear, has entered the moderate sportswear zone with the launch of the Mary McFadden Collection.
McFadden, who was in Miami to show at Fashion Week of the Americas last month, described her new misses’, petite and plus collection as “a fashion- and lifestyle-oriented line that crosses all demographics.” She said, “It is classically designed around very textural and durable fabrics, which wear and travel well.”
The MMC line, produced under license by Ben Elias Industries, is focused on day-to-evening, featuring fully lined suit jackets, pants, skirts and dresses for fall and will expand to include more sportswear separates for 2003.
Wholesale prices range from $40 for a printed moleskin top and skirt set to $70 for a buttercloth or wool-blend suit, all retailing for less than $100, McFadden said.
The line has preorder commitments from Parisian’s, Dillard’s, Rich’s, Nordstrom, Drapers and Elder Beerman, along with the Lew Magram and Chadwick catalogs, said Colin Tanenbaum, president of MMC.
“The benchmark for the line is to maintain high manufacturing standards within the moderate price point,” he said. “This line, as are all of Mary’s collections, is very fabric driven.”
McFadden described the fabric selection as “nearly indestructible and almost uncreasable.”
“Getting commitments [from retailers] is one step in the process of success, whether it will sell through is the true test,” she said.
Fabrics include chiffons, crepes, patterned moleskins and brocades from the Far East, as well as 12- to 18-gauge knitwear of Italian yarns made in Moldavia, and boucle and tweed knits of polyester, acrylic, viscose and Lycra spandex from Turkey. In addition, graphic patterned and jacquard wool blends from Russia are featured, as well as a finely woven Japanese buttercloth.
The label is white with black borders, with the name spelled out in black — consistent with the signature Mary McFadden Couture collection.
Tanenbaum expects sales of MMC to surpass $10 million wholesale in its first season. McFadden noted that the moderate market is not new to her. She sold her line to J.C. Penney nearly 20 years ago and currently produces a line of accessories for QVC.

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