NEW YORK — Next year marks George Simonton’s 40th year on Seventh Avenue, and to some degree he looks as if he is just warming up.
Through a new partnership with L’Art de la Mode, a third-generation Italian company, the designer will launch three labels and is expanding an existing one. Fall 2005 will signal the introduction of George Simonton Luxe, an upscale collection of suit separates and coats; Simonton Says moderate-priced separates and coats; Trilogi by George Simonton, moderate outerwear, and Michael DeGray by George Simonton coats.
On another front, Simonton is nearing his 20th year at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where he teaches contemporary tailored garments.
“Success comes to people at different times in life,” Simonton said. “I love being reenergized.” One of his luxe outfits, in fact, was featured in a fashion shoot in the debut issue of Suede magazine.
Simonton’s luxe line will consist of suit separates and coats, a new category for the designer. Starting wholesale prices for pants are $90, skirts are $100, jackets are $175 and coats are $500. Capes, fur-trimmed pieces, jackets and coats made of European fabrics will be offered. The collection will be sold in 800 to 1,000 specialty stores, the current base for the George Simonton label.
For fall 2005, outerwear will be added to Michael DeGray, a label Simonton introduced two years ago and named after his grandfather. Coats will start at $125 and will be sold to specialty stores and such catalogues as SC Direct.
Following a successful 30-minute test on QVC in July, the designer will be back on Nov. 23 for a 60-minute show to pitch his Simonton Says label. Last time he sold about 9,500 units in 18 minutes, he said.
“I’d never sold units like that in my life. When I sell 30 units at a trunk show, I’m thrilled,” Simonton said.
Next year the designer plans to up his annual trunk show appearances to 40 from 24 in order to launch the luxe line. He is eager to go to Chevy Chase, Md., for a trunk show at Neiman Marcus. When he was there six months ago, the store manager introduced him to Laura Bush, who happened to be at the store. Simonton was flattered that the First Lady remembered that he dressed her when her husband was governor of Texas.
At the other end of the spectrum, Simonton is lending his name to L’Art de la Mode’s Trilogi outerwear label. Trilogi by George Simonton will be introduced for fall 2005 and will be sold in department stores and specialty stores. Having relocated to a showroom at 463 Seventh Avenue here earlier this month, Simonton and his two employees, national sales director Judie Barkan and his personal assistant Ernest Bane, are now just a few floors away from the L’Art de la Mode office.
Simonton said he liked the fact that L’Art de la Mode’s president and chief executive officer Marcos Prozer runs a family business. That’s a model Simonton tries to emulate in his own office, even though a small staff means more work for individuals.
“You know what they say, ‘Give a busy man the job. He’ll get it done.’” Simonton said.