Byline: Jessica Kerwin

MILAN — Some designers have to live up to the larger-than-life label that has hired them. Kostas Murkudis is challenged in the reverse. As the new designer behind New York Industrie, which will be shown on the runway here today, he’s practically starting from scratch. “The first thing I had to change was the label,” Murkudis says, pulling open the lapel of a cool corduroy blazer to reveal the new logo on its tag. “But I couldn’t change the name.”
Murkudis began work on both the women’s and men’s collections in his Munich studio last fall, after Diesel chief Renzo Rosso, who acquired the line last year as part of his Staff International buyout, charged him with making it all new again. Murkudis, who is known for the quirky line he shows in Paris, won’t approach this venture wild-eyed, but he’s determined to give Industrie some honest-to-goodness edge. “It used to be just selling clothes, you know, just the easy stuff,” he says with disdain. “They called it sandwiches.”
All the same, the designer realizes that a little bit of commerciality can be a good thing — a really good thing. He won’t be showing his signature collection in Paris this season, but in Milan he’s feeling the weight of his new partner. “I can’t play the game against the big brands in Paris,” Murkudis says. “But with Industrie I would like to develop a proper business, do advertising and play the game.” Besides luring the label’s runaway retail accounts back in, plans for free-standing stores and an accessories line are in the works.
“I believe,” Murkudis adds earnestly, “in clothes you can wear. Clothes become real through human beings.” His proof is right there on the rack.