LOS ANGELES — Designer Joie Rucker is back — not with a vengeance, but with a desire to meld her spiritual and professional sides.
Rucker, who launched the contemporary line Joie four years ago with partner Sean Barron, left last March and sold her stake and rights in the brand in August to Serge Azria, who partnered with Barron in the venture.
After a stint surfing at Malibu’s First Point, practicing yoga and spending time with her husband, Rucker has returned to the cut-and-sew practice and is doubling her design efforts with the launch of two lines, Puca and ArchIndigo, under the parent company Tres Angeles. The lines will launch at Fashion Coterie on Sunday in Manhattan, where Rucker will show a bit of spring for April 30 deliveries and fall for June 1 shipments.
The blonde, blue-eyed designer, who grew up in Northern California with hippie parents, said she wants to make clothes for the pure love of the enterprise.
“It’s a different mentality with this company because we’re not about chasing volume,” said Rucker, who also worked as vice president of design for Guess and a senior designer at Levi Strauss. “I want to bring my daily life and spiritual life closer together.”
That means she even plans to donate a percentage of proceeds to earth-conservation causes, especially ocean-related organizations, given her surf roots, once the company establishes a solid sales footing.
Her departure from Joie resulted from a difference in business goals. As a result of her partnership experience, which she said was her version of “graduate school,” she’s flying solo on her new venture.
“I have a million great allies out there who were willing to help out and I feel very lucky about that,” she said. “But this time it’s no partners. I’m financing this…and using all the tools of my vision.”
The new labels cater to the “alter egos” of women, she said. There’s Puca, which is all about carefree, easy-to-wear clothes with hand-sewn details as reflected by its Hawaiian meaning, “authentic” and “bona fide.” The collection offers a handful of henleys, tank tops, jeans and cargos, decorated with embellishments. Tiny mismatched African beads serve as buttons on ribbed henleys, and cargos resembling twill are made of yarn-dyed denim for an ultrasoft hand. Other features include grosgrain and satin ribbon taping and billowy tops with kimono-styled sleeves in Indian vintage fabrics trimmed in beading. The denim uses yarn-dyed techniques for a worn feel and hand-embroidered patches washed with the jean for a uniform appearance.
ArchIndigo swings in the opposite direction with a harder edge. Minimalist ribbed tanks with hand-stitched details, long and lean jersey tops, corduroy pants with slimmer cuts and jeans with tailored touches round out the mix. The line’s key silhouette is a yarn-dyed denim cuffed jean with a thick waistband and lowered back yoke for an uplifting effect.
Produced in Los Angeles, the lines use Peruvian cotton and American denim, as well as denim from Belgium and domestic corduroy. Wholesale prices for Puca and ArchIndigo range from $35 to $185.
Rucker said the focus is on the “quality of the product” and grudgingly admits to “being happy” with $500,000 in combined first-year sales. Distribution will be limited to 40 doors in the first year to maintain exclusivity and control sales.
To keep start-up costs in check, she’s using loft space in a building owned by a friend. Next month, the company will move to a 5,500-square-foot space in Santa Monica, Calif., which will feature a dog run and barbecue.