DESIGNS FROM DOWN UNDER

Byline: Rusty Williamson

Summer may be on its way out, way down in Australia, but the booming fall apparel scene should keep people’s minds off the coming cool weather.
Especially when there’s labels like Rarity Sport Australia to heat things up. Rarity has decided to test its U.S. appeal and is wending its way to the wholesale marketplace.
Rarity, an art-inspired line of jeans, jackets, tops, skirts and dresses, will debut here in March at Brad Hughes & Associates and in Atlanta at Ambrosia & Co., with New York representation still being finalized.
Rarity is print-driven and is sewn from luxury fabrics, such as silk blends and georgettes hailing from Germany, Italy and France. Stylistic inspirations for early fall include northern Africa, the French Renaissance, Art Deco and autumn in Connecticut, which is interpreted with a charming and rustic burnished-leaf print.
“The line is about fantasy, art and clean-lined sportswear for real women,” said Peter Battye, company principal and a 38-year veteran of the fashion industry.
Battye formerly had a line of men’s casual sportswear that closed three years ago when Rarity Sport Australia was launched.
“For Rarity, I choose fabrics and prints that will tantalize and harmonize with the individual. I’m never dictated by market trends — I sidestep them,” explained Battye from company headquarters in the Rushcutters Bay section of Sydney.
Early fall includes 40 pieces that are cut flatteringly close to the body without constricting. Styles include jeans and jackets printed with close-up shots of colorful old front doors found in Morocco, shirts that feature images of hearts carved into tree trunks, and tailored shirts and pants with 17th-century heraldic and unusual nautical prints. Wholesale prices are about $65 for a shirt to $90 for a jacket or dress.
“Rarity’s forte is the prints and the clean lines of the garments,” said Battye, who won’t allow back pockets to be sewn onto Rarity pants lest they detract from the line’s spare, but artful vision.
Rarity targets women 30 to 60 or anyone with a sense of joie de vivre, adds Battye.
“She’s prepared to take on color and loves a thoughtful novelty print. And we’re getting an incredible response from special-size women. We use American sizing, and the line spans from 2 to 18. The smaller women love the low-rise pants, and the prints and styling are flattering to larger women.”
Battye manufactures in Australia with in-house as well as contract sewers.
Rarity has 90 Australian retail accounts, along with a namesake boutique in Sydney’s fashionable Double Bay Shopping Center.
Battye uses the 500-square-foot boutique as a laboratory to gauge response to new designs and as a venue to speak with women about their apparel needs.
Rarity is projecting sales this year of $8 million U.S. dollars, with half that generated in the U.S.
“The U.S. is the only foreign market I’m working on now, and I’m specifically entering the U.S. with a focus on small specialty chains or single-unit upscale stores. I want to sell to retailers who are passionate about my product. The Southwest, Southeast and New York are going to be my initial target territories.”
Rarity is already sold at the Bellagio Hotel shop in Las Vegas.
“My concept is about the individual, which keeps me in the forefront of pattern selection. Australia has so much to offer the world, in that we are sufficiently removed and don’t get caught up with conformity.”