Byline: Marc Karimzadeh

NEW YORK — Angela Amiri is turning the page.
The designer, who is known for her whimsical handbags in leather, vintage and vintage-inspired textiles, had to overcome a few business obstacles so far, and she is now ready to embark on what she calls her “second life” — independent and with a capsule sportswear collection.
Amiri was one of the designers snapped up by the Pegasus Apparel Group’s acquisition flurry in 2000, but parted ways with the conglomerate in April, skipping fall production. For spring, she is expanding into sportswear with a line of 15 bias-cut skirts with tulip hems in limited-edition vintage silks, and eight cotton pointelle sweater tops adorned with a lace trim. The vintage fabrics feature various prints in multiple colors.
“Fashion shouldn’t be serious, life can be serious,” said Amiri. “I see fashion as pure escapism, which is why I don’t design in black or stark shapes.”
The designer is no stranger to sportswear. She studied fashion design at Pratt Institute, followed by 12 years on Seventh Avenue, where she was a design assistant for such firms as Bill Blass, Gruppo GFT, Gloria Sachs and Charlotte Neuville.
“This experience taught me to work through the process of creating a collection,” she said. “From that point on, I knew I wanted to be doing sportswear, and handbags were my stepping stone.”
While some would argue that vintage fabrics may be restrictive to build business volume, Amiri said she can easily reproduce designs at the Italian mills she uses for her handbags collection.
“The sportswear creates more of a complete look,” she noted. “I have noticed that women who are buying my handbags would be receptive to this. It’s very print-driven, eclectic, whimsical and colorful.”
The line will be sold in New York through Cynthia O’ Connor & Co., a multi-line showroom that also sells the handbags. Owner Cynthia O’Connor projects a minimum of $400,000 wholesale business for the first year, because “items are good business right now and it is not a huge commitment.”
The line wholesales for $80 to $128 for skirts, and $40 and $50 for tops. First deliveries are planned for late January to better department and specialty stores. Amiri said she plans to grow the sportswear slowly and eventually expand with home furnishings and shoes.
“I want to see the reaction with retail accounts that buy my bags, then roll it out as a full-fledged collection,” she said.

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