BYRON LARS COMES BACK WITH SPRING GREEN T LINE
Byline: Rusty Williamson
DALLAS — Byron Lars, the witty young designer who flew high over New York City’s Seventh Avenue in the early Nineties only to crash when a series of licensing deals went sour three years ago, is back in business.
Lars, whose most memorable collection was a 1992 ode to renegade aviator Amelia Earhart, hopes to soar again with a contemporary item-driven label called Green T, which quietly launched last year for spring selling.
Lars’s name does not appear on the Green T label, but he plans to resurrect a separate signature collection of shirts and related looks for next spring.
Though he produced a full ready-to-wear collection earlier in his career, Lars was best known for his whimsical yet practical shirts, including variations on a signature white blouse.
More than 100 trendy high-end specialty stores snapped up Green T soon after its launch, including Detour and New York Look, both in New York City; En Avance and Next Authentic, both in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood; and BB1 in Houston.
Cali Saitowitz, owner of BB1 Classic, a women’s specialty store in Houston, said “Green T is refreshing and new. There’s really not very much like it in the marketplace. It’s clean and has great styling. We had it in for summer and did really nicely with it. I’ve already placed my fall orders.”
Karen Quinones, owner of the contemporary retailer En Avance, said, “Our clientele loves Green T. We had 100 percent sell-through for spring. You can’t ask for more than that. For fall, I’ve ordered sexy turtlenecks with cutouts and some sleeveless T-shirts with Gothic-inspired cutouts. Byron Lars does really pretty colors like chocolate, lavender and turquoise. The clothes are also great for traveling. I’ve bought some of it for myself.”
First-year volume is planned at $1.2 million, according to Lars, who is a partner at TZM Associates in New York, which owns the Green T label. His partners are Detlef Meffert and Leslie Trent.
TZM has an exclusive production contract with SSG, a Hong Kong manufacturer with offices in New York, to produce the Green T line.
It’s a complete turnaround from his earlier arrangement, which was a series of licensing deals that fell apart when his Japanese backer withdrew funding in the mid-Nineties. Lars eventually closed his company in 1997.
“I’m glad to be back,” said Lars on Tuesday from TZM’s offices at 231 West 39th Street in New York.
“I’d rather flip burgers at McDonald’s than go through that again,” he added, referring to the licensing venture. “With Green T, we intentionally left my name off the label because we wanted to see if it could fly without a designer angle. We just wanted to do a really great product with design integrity at a really great price.”
Textured, cut-and-sew knit tops and stretch knit bottoms rendered in trendy shapes define the 75-piece Green T line for early spring.
There are no prints, but instead a sophisticated, fun and sometimes unexpected play on tonal palettes, including lots of tropical brights like lime and turquoise complemented by darker, sensual fruit and vegetable tones such as raisin and olive.
Lars said one of his favorite styles for spring is a kiwi gauze knit shirt layered over a sheer lavender camisole edged in raisin tulle and a matching silk stretch knit bottom.
“The line is texture- and color-driven,” he continued. “Green T is definitely affected by the trends, but we want also to address what’s missing on the fashion scene, as well.”
Wholesale prices for spring range from $27 for a silk, cotton and Lycra spandex shirt with intricate details such as cutouts held in place with wire inserts, to $75 for a labor-intensive cut-and-sew sweater with lots of pointelle. Sizes range from extra small to large.
“Our target customer is more an attitude than an age. She’s definitely a contemporary customer, maybe 18 to 35 years old.”
In addition to high-end specialty stores in the U.S., TZM plans a targeted global outreach for Green T, including selling to Germany and Scandinavia by this time next year.
Lars said he’s worked on a variety of design projects since leaving the fashion business in 1997, including an ongoing venture with toymaker Mattel, with which he produces a signature collectible Barbie doll.
“I freelanced with lots of different types of companies and stretched my creative wings,” he explained.