RICHARD LEEDS’S MAGICAL SLEEPWEAR KINGDOM

Byline: Karyn Monget

NEW YORK — “We want our personality to be consistent, and we feel it’s very important for us to represent a focused identity of design, merchandising and a classification we call branded novelty,” said Richard Leeds, president and chairman of Richard Leeds International.
Although the novelty could easily refer to the firm’s recently renovated showrooms here at 135 Madison Avenue, Leeds in this case was referring to the company’s diversified stable of brands. The group includes a young contemporary collection of sleepwear called French Jenny — which is making a comeback — as well as 12 sleepwear licenses: Winnie the Pooh, Mickey, Disney Classics, Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo, Power Puff Girls, Hershey’s, M & M, Tootsie Roll, Lamb Chop, Hostess and Harry Potter.
The Potter line — which Leeds said “has been kept under wraps” because of the popularity and cult following of the series of best-selling books featuring the Harry Potter character — will be unveiled today along with the new sales space.
The showroom redo was designed by Rafael Castanera and Heidi Pettee. Pettee was formerly creative director for the Warner Bros. store on Fifth Avenue, as well as Polo Ralph Lauren boutiques in the Far East.
Marcia Leeds, Richard’s wife and chief financial officer, said the idea is to make visitors feel as though they’ve entered a “magical sleepwear kingdom the moment the elevator doors” open to the showroom entrance, which features serene cloud gray walls and a metallic silver half-moon sofa.
The remainder of the showroom, which features a different ambience for licensed characters and the French Jenny line, includes a red lip-shape velour sofa and hot pink ottomans; painted fake images depicting an Art Deco mirror, in what Marcia Leeds described as “the boudoir room,” and a separate room with a trompe l’oeil clothesline upon which to display samples. Whimsical, painted cat statuettes inspired by the Leeds’s cat, Root Beer, are the showroom mascots.
The piece de resistance is an antique Love Pilot — a fortune-telling machine from the Twenties that forecasts a person’s “love personality” for a dime, he said. Fortunes range from Bashful, Jealous and Violent, to Blah and Over Sexed.
“It should be a hit with retailers during market week,” said Marcia Leeds.
Interjected Richard Leeds: “We spent over a quarter-million dollars redoing the showrooms for the brands. In order to be successful today, you can’t just focus on a brand. It’s all about great design and it has to have great value. A company has to make a major marketing and merchandising statement.”
Marcia Leeds would not give an annual sales volume for the company. But industry estimates place yearly wholesale sales at between $65 million and $75 million.