The new Heaven’s Luxury Brand is as much about peace and unity as fit and fabric.
The line is the inspiration of the Swiss team of Karim Ramadan, 22, a Muslim, and Selman Bianco, 23, a Jew, who have been friends since they played soccer together as boys in Geneva. They have always wanted to make something together, and last year decided to create clothing with a message of oneness.
“It’s a new philosophy more than it is a brand,” Bianco said. “We come from Geneva, where we have a lot of friends from different cultures and religions. Karim is a Muslim and I am a Jew, and we have always been friends. But we see the war in the world between a lot of religions.”
The apparel is message-heavy: Across an Italian cashmere sweater is woven, “Heaven for Everyone.” The hangtags explain the values behind the brand, and the designers’ commitment to donate 1 percent of sales to the community where each piece is sold.
“We know people think differently, but they wear the same clothes,” Ramadan said. “We think the clothes can make a difference that is positive in the world.”
The 70-piece women’s and men’s collection includes “wisdom” T-shirts, “canonized” cashmere sweaters, “sacred” shirts and “pluralistic” premium jeans, all in earth tones. Wholesale prices start at around $35 for a top and climb to $500 for a Turkish leather jacket. The brand’s showroom is at 330 Madison Avenue in Manhattan.
It’s a luxury brand for everyone, so the price points aren’t way up there,” said creative director Alan Rohwer, who also consults for Versace, TSE and Yigal Azrouël. He was standing in a Chelsea loft, where Heaven’s look book was being photographed on two angelic-looking models. The shots alternated between evoking Adam and Eve, cherubim and the Sistine Chapel. Candles glowed everywhere.
“We are seeing a turn inward and upward,” Rohwer said, pointing at magazine, newspaper and book clippings on the floor, and citing museum exhibits, advertising and news events. “Look at all of the religion in the media right now. We are heading into a huge Renaissance period.”
The line made its debut around Christmas at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. The marketing strategy includes gift bags at VIP events at the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan and the Screen Actors Guild after party. The domestic apparel industry will see the line at Project and Coterie next month.
Bianco and Ramadan divide their time between Geneva (where they live and design), Turkey (where the clothes are manufactured), Paris (the European distribution center) and New York (the U.S. distribution center).
Rohwer said he expected the brand, which is financed by a private Swiss investor, would do more than $25 million wholesale globally within two years. The Web site, heavensbrand.com, is being launched at the end of the month, and the company plans to open two freestanding Heaven’s stores by the end of the year, most likely in Los Angeles and New Orleans.