COOLCHANGE SPICES UP LINE WITH SPORTSWEAR
Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg
NEW YORK — Coolchange hopes to cash in on a few more options.
Known for its Balinese batik sarongs, the New York-based company has introduced a bias-cut dress, bikini, camisole, pants and two skirts for spring. Rhonda Scholes, the company’s founder, decided to go forward with the line due to retailers’ requests.
Coolchange is currently available at Calypso, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and resort specialty stores in the U.S. and in the Caribbean. This year the company expects to sell about 7,000 sarongs, according to Tina Lutz, designer.
Jenny Kwong, manager of Calypso’s Mott Street store, said shoppers like Coolchange’s red items, as well as its patterned and sequined styles.
“People will pick up a couple of sarongs to match their swimsuit or to wear on the street,” she said.
With wholesale prices ranging from $24 to $66, the sportswear line is being shown at Coolchange’s showroom at 225 Lafayette Street. There are also a few accessories such as head scarves and beach bags.
“The new line is for people who feel more comfortable in a loose skirt than a sarong. So they don’t have to worry that a knot might come undone,” Lutz said.
Stephanie Seymour was photographed at her Hamptons summer rental for Coolchange’s spring promotional material. A friend of Scholes, Seymour is big fan of the sarongs, Lutz said.
Coolchange is considering offering more swimwear. As part of a test exclusively with Harvey Nichols this summer, Coolchange sold 150 units of its batik bikini.
Before founding Coolchange in 1997, Scholes spent three years living in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and importing sarongs. Prior to that, she worked with photographers and worked in retail and fashion in Australia, her native country.
With more stores showing interest in the sportswear, the company is considering shifting some production to India. Batik is an involved dyeing process that can require a half-day’s work for one sarong, Lutz said. A wooden block is used to apply wax in an intricate pattern to the fabric, which is then dyed. Some items are then hand-painted.
“It’s a real art and not a lot of people still know how to do batik,” said Lutz, who also helps Christy Turlington design Nuala, a yoga-inspired line produced by Puma. Like Scholes, Lutz has also worked in fashion with Calvin Klein and Esprit among others.
Garments require a good deal of sunlight to dry properly and any substantial rainfall can affect the production schedule, Lutz explained.
“Batik needs so much sun to dry. It’s really tough to call up Saks to say, ‘I’m really sorry but it’s rainy season in Bali,” she said.