NEW YORK — Jil Sander isn’t the only label that Raf Simons is designing for this year—British sportswear brand Fred Perry has tapped the avant-garde Belgian designer to create a capsule collection.
The Raf Simons for Fred Perry men’s line will be in stores this fall, and replaces the designer collaboration with Comme des Garçons that Fred Perry has sold for the past seven seasons. The Raf Simons initiative encompasses 13 pieces for fall, and may expand into additional categories next year. The initial agreement between Fred Perry and Simons is for two seasons, but the deal can be extended if both parties agree.
“From a global positioning perspective, the Comme des Garçons collections have done amazing things for our brand,” said Richard Martin, head of marketing at Fred Perry. “But we wanted to broaden our product range a bit rather than just having a few star polo shirts and jackets, which Comme wasn’t on board for, so we looked at other international figures we could work with. Raf Simons was on top of that list. His work is very much tied in to U.K. subcultures, music, graphic art and youth. There’s a lot of synergy in his approach to fashion and our brand.”
The debut fall collection includes a heavy piqué polo ($195 retail); a textured acrylic/cotton polo ($485); a short-sleeved wool/nylon turtleneck sweater ($370); a mohair turtleneck sweater ($550); a wool/acrylic/alpaca chunky knit sweater ($845); and a wool flannel trouser ($400).
Simons researched the Fred Perry archive—the brand was founded in 1953—and used some sleek ’60s skiwear designs as his starting point. Thus, the fall collection has a body-hugging silhouette, and is available only in black, paralleling Simons’ signature dark aesthetic. A small pop of color comes from a Fred Perry laurel wreath logo, which comes in a unique color for each item, such as royal blue, gold, white or forest green.
Fred Perry is targeting a small number of top-tier specialty retailers for the Raf Simons collection, which is produced in European facilities. In the U.S. market, the line will be sold by the Avalon Group showroom. The number of doors it will end up in is undetermined at this point, but the Comme des Garçons for Fred Perry label was sold to about 125 stores worldwide, including Barneys, Opening Ceremony and Odin.
London-based Fred Perry has been owned by Osaka, Japan–based Hit Union Co. Ltd. since 1995. The privately held company does not reveal total brand sales, but the worldwide figure is in excess of $100 million, according to David Ward, Fred Perry’s sales director. Around the world, Fred Perry is sold in about 3,500 points of sale, with top markets including the U.K., Japan, Scandinavia and the U.S.