Rya Montelle

Flora Backer, the founder of Flora Nikrooz who launched her lingerie line Rya in 2016, is entering a partnership with Montelle.

William Haddad, the owner of the Montreal-based intimate apparel firm, said he wasn’t looking to work with new brands, but after meeting Backer and seeing the line, they started to have conversations and realized it was an alliance that made sense.

“It’s hard to not fall in love with Flora,” said Haddad. “She’s so passionate about what she does. She has an amazing track record and her line is amazing. I went from, I’m not interested at all, to taking a close look and getting to know each other and deciding to do it.”

Backer will continue to oversee Rya’s design and creative while Montelle will support the brand by handling inventory, shipping, customer service, accounting and a sales rep force in Canada and the U.S. that will help Backer enter more boutiques. Rya is sold at retailers including Anthropologie and specialty boutiques.

“Bill is a great thinker and is very in-tune with the future of the industry,” said Backer. “I am dedicated to body-positive, passionate and stylish women who are not afraid to break boundaries and express their own individuality. We hope that with this new partnership, Rya collection will become a lifestyle brand while continuing to be visionary.”

Backer started Rya shortly after leaving Flora Nikrooz, the lingerie line she founded and designed for almost three decades. Flora Nikrooz was acquired by manufacturing company Age Group Ltd. in 2003 and in 2007 Richie Adjmi broke off from Age Group to start Essential Brands and took the line with him.

Backer has been known for her uberfeminine lingerie with a bohemian tilt that’s done well in the bridal market. She’s continued that with Rya, which Haddad said rounds out Montelle’s brand list. Montelle does private-label work, but has spent the last few years focusing on its own brands including Montelle, a bra brand; Fleur’t, a loungewear line; HookedUp Shapewear; Miel, a line of seamless innerwear, and Lusomé, a sleepwear line made from textiles that help with perspiration.

Haddad said Montelle has been able to withstand the changes at retail by adapting.

“Everything in the garment industry is going through a tremendous amount of change. The challenges from Amazon have really turned the entire industry upside down,” said Haddad. “We are looking at opportunities to drop ship to big retailers and some of the emerging retailers. They just don’t want to carry inventory anymore. We have to look to adapt to them.”