NEW YORK — After cultivating a following in Canada for her muted-tone, simple matte jersey dresses and flared trousers, Lida Baday is now looking at the U.S. market for expansion.
“As I’ve broadened my offering beyond dresses to a designer collection, I realized that Canada was too limiting and I needed to look for more opportunities,” said Baday, who was here recently to open her showroom at 550 Seventh Ave.
The 2,500-square-foot space, which her husband and business partner, Mario Zuliani, helped to design, had been part of the space previously occupied by Eva Chun, who closed her business last year.
Baday said her hectic schedule these past couple of months has included a runway show of her collection in Toronto, where she is based, as well as participation at the Fashion Coterie here in February, the fourth season she has exhibited at the trade show.
“It’s been a mad crunch to get things done, but it’s definitely necessary,” said Baday, whose seven-year-old design business is staffed by 17 people, including three design assistants.
In 1993, Baday’s business brought in $2.5 million in sales. It was the first full year in which she sold to the U.S., which wound up accounting for 20 percent of her business. Baday hopes to reach $6 million in volume within the next three years, with half of that coming from the U.S.
Baday said her collection is now in 150 Canadian and 30 U.S. upscale boutiques, including Elaine Blumenthal in Highland Park, Ill., and Claire Dratch in Bethesda, Md.
As part of her new push in the U.S., Baday has brought in Bob Miller, former vice president at Anne Lawrence, as executive vice president, overseeing sales. Baday is also working on her first fall brochure.
“I like it here in New York,” she said. “There’s a lot of energy, and it feeds me with ideas.”
Baday works mostly with viscose matte jerseys and silks, using mostly grays, off-whites and blacks.
Key items for fall include suits of wool polyamide and cotton microfiber jackets over long A-line skirts with chenille trim, a flared viscose polyamide matte jersey dress with scoop neckline, and a wool jumper dress, sold with a white cotton shirt and a wool frock coat trimmed with horn buttons.
The dresses wholesale for $200 to $500, the suits for $300 to $500, the evening gowns for $250 to $600 and pants for $150.
“We’ve had a wonderful sell-through,” said LeShay Green, a buyer at Claire Dratch. “It’s very contemporary, elegant and understated.”
Green bought Baday’s long satin crepe and silk organza gowns and wide-leg trousers for spring and fall.
Baday, a graduate of Toronto’s Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, one of Canada’s leading design schools, began her design career working with dress manufacturers in Toronto. In 1990, she was awarded the Fil D’Argent for Canada in Paris by the Maison du Lin, a promotional arm of the Linen Commission of France. In 1992, Baday received the City of Toronto designer of the year award.