Byline: Julee Greenberg

NEW YORK — Cynthia Steffe is taking the first big jump to expanding its brand under the Leslie Fay Co.’s ownership.
The designer’s newest addition, Cynthia Steffe black label, is a step above the Cynthia by Cynthia Steffe contemporary sportswear line. The new line includes ready-to-wear and sportswear pieces, which can be coordinated with the existing collection, but are set at a much higher price range. The black label line begins wholesale at $149 for a basic cashmere shell and goes to $2,289 for a kangaroo shearling coat.
The idea for this line, Steffe said, was to create a luxury collection that would allow the present Cynthia Steffe customer to buy from both lines.
“We are fulfilling a need with this line,” she said. “It’s something the customer has been asking for.”
The difference between the black label line and the Cynthia by Cynthia Steffe collection is in the fabrics, said Richard Roberts, president of the company. Many different types of fur, leather and cashmere can be found within the line, including a coat made of hamster fur and a suede and kangaroo-hair shearling.
“Our customer will buy a $200 pair of pants from the Cynthia line and a $2,000 jacket from the black label line,” he said. “It’s meant to be bought piece by piece.”
Roberts said the new line is meant to be sold in some of the “finest stores in the country,” but is sure to be available in some of the stores where the Cynthia by Cynthia Steffe line is sold now.
“These prices are not meant for every store,” Roberts stressed.
While a portion of the black label line made its debut on the Cynthia Steffe fall 2001 runway, Roberts said that there are about 80 stockkeeping units in total.
“We had a great reaction from retailers right after the show,” he said. “And at the Coterie, as well.”
Roberts said he wants to keep this collection specialized, so he projects to see about $2 million in volume after the first year of the launch.
“This relationship we have with Leslie Fay has really been a great one,” he said. “Branding was limited in the past. Now, we can expand in many ways.”
Next on the agenda, Roberts said he is hoping to launch an accessories line and maybe even a home collection.
“With Cynthia’s love of antiques, I am sure a home collection is in our future,” he said.