Eighty percent of Sleeper’s clients are located in the U.S., but Asya Varetsa, who cofounded the sleepwear brand with Kate Zubarieva, will start to handle sales and business development out of New York and they will also set up a showroom during New York Fashion Week.
“It makes more sense to be here because a lot of our buyers are here,” said Varetsa. “We need to be here to figure out the shipping situation and build more relationships.”
It’s a big move for the brand, which is based in Ukraine and has steadily gained accounts including Moda Operandi, Harrods, Barneys New York and Opening Ceremony since launching in 2014 and the line has been worn by fashion industry influencers including Mira Duma, Aurora James and Eleonora Carisi. Retailers have been drawn to their stylish pajamas that are made by hand at its manufacturing facilities in Ukraine. They also produce a men’s and children’s collection.
Varetsa and Zubarieva have tapped into the pajama dressing trend and captured a modern consumer who is accustomed to the comfort of ath-leisure and working from home. The assortment includes a core collection of basic pajamas and robes, a linen collection of dresses and slips, and a bridal collection of silk pieces. They also release seasonal collections twice a year to insert newness into stores. The line, which ranges from $200 for a short set to $390 for silk pajamas, could second as ready-to-wear.
Zubarieva and Varetsa met while working at fashion magazines in Ukraine. They used $2,000 to start the business, which Varetsa said has made money since launching and they haven’t taken on any investors. They got their big break when the now deceased Franca Sozzani discovered the brand via an Instagram contest and featured its pieces in Italian Vogue. Initially they produced the pajamas in an outside factory, but because they had such a bad experience with the manufacturing, they decided to build their own production team that makes the pajamas by hand. When buying from Sleeper’s e-commerce site, the pajamas are made to order. This change led to a price increase.
“The pajamas we sell are perfectly made because our seamstresses have 30 years of experience,” said Varetsa. “They are a product you invest in once, twice, or three times in your life. This is something you are going to keep for a few years, this isn’t something you are going to throw away after the season.”
For 2018 they hope to establish a showroom presence in all of the markets they sell to, and update their web site to include an option to customize pajamas.
“We expect to grow by 200 and 300 percent this year,” said Varetsa. “We are going to need to increase manufacturing but we still want to do it the same we’ve done it for the past three years because it’s really important for us to maintain the DNA of our sleepwear. The main challenge is to still have this ability to create niche, small and home-crafted product even if we have a lot of orders.”