This story first appeared in the June 5, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Ambrosia & CO.

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Di Vita, Il Gilet

Fashion industry veterans Joseph and Debra Greco, a husband-wife duo who met at an industry party and subsequently wed in 1990, launched in February two upper-bridge-priced collections, Il Gilet and Di Vita. Formed under a new New York-based company called Principe Group, the collections are meant to be merchandised together, with Il Gilet’s focus on knitwear, while Da Vita encompasses more structured sportswear.

The Grecos had a very specific 35-to-70-year-old consumer in mind when they decided to launch the lines.

“It was easy because we designed everything for our friends: affluent women who travel frequently, are out and about and enjoy a sophisticated aesthetic,” Joseph said.

Many of Di Vita’s silhouettes are key shapes interpreted in different fabrics: a wrap trench is available in perforated leather, wool or teflon-coated nylon, while a pair of ankle-length riding pants comes in techno-stretch gabardine, wool cavalry twill, and matte stretch silk. Wholesale prices for Di Vita, which means “in life” in Italian, range from $100 to $500.

Il Gilet means “a little waistcoat,” reflecting its focus on special pieces: easy little cashmere shells, tanks and T-shirt styles embellished with stitches or beads. The line wholesales between $100 and $200.

Combined first-year volume for both lines is projected to be $5 million, Joseph said. Atlanta retail accounts include Potpourri and Bonnie White.


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When Ronen Elimelech, the owner of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based import company D.J. Resort, decided to bring the better line Yuka to the U.S. from France, he opted to first concentrate on its tops. Although the 14-year-old brand is a complete collection in Europe, encompassing categories such as suits and denim, the knit top component, which launched in April, is considered the largest and strongest of them (it is the only group currently available in the U.S.) Wholesaling between $40 and $60, Yuka’s hand-loomed knit tops are produced in fine nylon/rayon, rayon/spandex and nylon/rayon/spandex blends. The designs are often basic, with details like contrast stitching or rhinestones applied to hem and border areas. The company for fall will offer fake-fur-trimmed cardigans, ribbed turtlenecks, striped shells and a series of tops with lacing on the sleeves. Also the import company for French footwear line Frisky, D.J. Resort projects a 2002 volume for the U.S. market of $5 million for Yuka, said vice president of sales and marketing Mark Teitelbaum. Atlanta retail accounts include Rexer-Parkes and G. Gilbert.


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Cultural Persona

Based in Oklahoma City, Cultural Persona made its Los Angeles debut in April. Bottoms, available in sizes 24-31, wholesale on average for $46.

“It really plays into wardrobe and costume, and it’s about living in a mobile society, where denim can be a canvas for anyone in any way,” said general manager Jeff Hamilton. “With such a unique perspective, we hope to be a new force in the premium denim marketplace by innovating what is a fundamental concept of human nature: image perception.”

The line’s newest offering is the “Joie de Vivre,” a low-rise boot-cut available in three washes aimed at a contemporary customer. Other denim bottoms include the relaxed-fit “Traditionalist” and the “Sleekster,” a slim leg, low-rise jeans style. The company also produces logo T-shirts.

Cultural Persona’s 45 specialty store accounts include Erlene’s in Bakersfield, Calif., and G. Gilbert in Atlanta. Volume for 2002 is projected at $1.5 million.


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Trend and novelty are the buzzwords at Casting, a Miami-based young contemporary line. Manufactured and sourced in Paris, Casting was born in 1997 in a Miami store of the same name. Targeting consumers between 17 and 45 years old, founder and designer Georges Levy tracks trends by visiting France every five weeks and adding new pieces to the collection every 10 days. “The product as a whole is well coordinated,” said Levy. “It’s easy to create an attractive corner of the store just with Casting because of the nice variety of colors and styles.”

Bohemian and East Indian influences factor heavily in the latest transitional and summer groups. Rust and red tie-dyes appear on white linen tops and dresses, low-rise pants are inset with lace and the patterns seen in previous seasons give way to Indian-inspired prints cast in earthy browns and oranges. Wrinkled polyester/cotton shirts and long skirts add texture to the mix. Wholesale prices range from $29 for tops to $89 for pants. Casting’s 400 specialty and department store accounts include Atlanta retailers Rexer-Parkes and Signature.


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Ted Baker

Quirky classics define Ted Baker, a 14-year-old line that hails from London.

With a core customer base of 25-to-35-years-old, Ted Baker pieces wholesale from $38 to $210. Popular among buyers are a tailored wool-and-nylon-blend water-resistant jacket, skirt and pants trio. Offered in black and stone, details including print linings and pockets designed for a passport and cell phone give the basic silhouette a twist. Also popular is the black “dinner tux” — consisting of a jacket and pair of pants — that has traditional tuxedo striping with a teflon finish.


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At Los Angeles-based NOW, designer-merchandiser Allen Chevalier and pattern engineer Sande Katana are revolutionizing pants one leg at a time. Ron Perilman, the chief executive officer of NOW’s corporate parent, City Girl Inc., said the contemporary market is in need of a stylish pants-based collection.

“The market spent a lot of time being boxy, but now things are really body-conscious, and pants are getting attention because a woman can wear them and show off the figure she works so hard to maintain,” he said. NOW, targeted at women between 20 and 35 years old, wholesales between $48 and $59.

The fall collection includes a pair of waistless stretch jeans with alternating thick and thin stripes, which the company said is inspired by the Seventies. The fall line also includes stretch pants with a built-in leather strap belt and a pair of striped cotton/microfiber/spandex pants with grommets at the waist.

Perilman projects 2002 volume will be $13 million. Georgia retail accounts include Simply Irresistible in Augusta and Mel & Mimi in Rome.

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