L.A. handbag designer Clare Vivier is launching apparel, beginning with tops, dresses and jackets.
With her signature Cal-French prep twist, the introductory range includes a black-and-white polka-dot ruffle bib blouse, a white denim ruffle-front shirt dress, and a reversible red-and-navy checkerboard puff sleeve jacket. Over the coming months, bucket hats, belts, paisley blouses and knitwear will be added.
The collection, which retails for $125 to $345, is being sold at all nine Clare V. stores and online at the brand’s website.
“Over the past year we pivoted much more into T-shirts and sweats, so it made sense we would also try wovens,” said Vivier, noting that sales of hoodies and T-shirts in tie-dye or with French phrases such as “L’Ennui” and “Charmant” helped the business make it through the pandemic.
“We also have wonderful contacts in India who do all our woven bags and have all the capability for apparel,” she said. “It was really enlightening to go see them in New Delhi a year ago. They said, ‘why don’t you do more?’ Going to any factory, even our local factory, always sparks the most design ideas, and that’s how it worked with this,” added the designer, who has branched into other categories before by collaborating with Anthropologie on a home collection, and New York-based Demylee on sweaters.
“We wanted to start it in a small way…Tops are what everyone is concerned with now because of our Zoom culture but we are also big fans of puff sleeves and a ruffle on the collar so it made sense,” she said of her starting-slow approach, which included raiding her own closet for inspiration. Vivier is an avid vintage shopper who often shares her finds on Instagram, whether they are from a store in her hometown of Minneapolis or down the street in L.A.
“We have our nine stores so it’s always a question on our minds, what categories are we going to expand into?” she said of her retail strategy, which incorporates some product from other brands, including Lizzie Fortunato, Maya Brenner and Teva. “We are slowly broadening our assortment, and building out our stores with Clare V. product. We can make our own jewelry and candles, too. That’s another natural extension for us to get into.”
So far, she’s not going to wholesale the clothing. “I like keeping the price points direct-to-consumer, but never say never,” Vivier said, adding that despite the challenges, 2020 ended up being a strong year for wholesale, with Nordstrom picking up her sweats and Ts for fall to go along with the handbags it already carries. “They are a huge partner.”