Byline: Elena Romero

NEW YORK — “If sex sells, style sells more,” said Omar Jermaine, cofounder and designer of the new tops brand, Star Tea Company. “I’ve designed pieces that will address her needs in the bedroom, the office, the playground and all around town.”
It will be Jermaine’s first major attempt at launching a junior sportswear brand. His design background stems from the young men’s industry, where he had worked at companies including Enyce and the defunct G-III brand EXSTO XXIV VII. Almost three years ago, Jermaine, along with partner Michael A. Clark, launched Karma Ashram Studios, a full-service design studio based in Brooklyn’s DUMBO district. Clients have included Timberland, Wilson’s The Leather Experts and Sean John.
According to Jermaine, the idea for a junior tops-based company was sparked by what he considers a necessity.
“Most junior businesses are built around the denim business and T-shirts,” he said. “We felt that there is a need for a women’s top’s line that addresses both fashion and basics.”
The duo is not foreign to launching brands. Under the design studio, they have rolled out Domepiece, a headwear-driven company for men and women, as well as Flat Iron 7, a young men’s contemporary brand, which is backed by the Nesi Group.
Using the tag line, “Quality teas and clothing from the merchants to the stars,” Star Tea Company is currently being tested for fall, with a full rollout anticipated for spring 2002. A red star has been chosen as its icon.
“The star as a symbol is very identifiable and we plan to build our marketing concept around the word tea,” Jermaine said. “It lends itself to different things.”
Inspirations come from Jermaine’s worldly travels and female friends: “I’m inspired by the sophistication and simplicity of Spanish design and Star Tea’s technical influence stems from Amsterdam and London.”
Star Tea Company offers “forward classics” and its ideal customer is considered to be an avid Lucky reader.
“She’s a shop-a-holic and buys product that supports her own idea of style,” Jermaine said. “There are people that like to buy things and have them in their wardrobe to work back into. Our customer is one of them.”
Fabrics include cotton, suede, nylon, polyester fleece, rayon blends and denim offered in form-fitting silhouettes. Basic, athletic and sexy looks are main areas of concentration.
“We will also offer related separates in the knit category, such as a top with a matching panty as a set,” he said. “We’ll begin offering intimates as gift-giving ideas for holiday.” The line, which will have interesting packaging and point-of-purchase materials, is targeted at specialty chains and boutiques. Retail prices range from $30 to $100.
“I’m interested in possibly expanding it into a full sportswear collection,” he said. “It all depends on the need of the consumer.”