New brands will blossom in the contemporary sportswear segment next year, ranging from an exclusive line at Saks Fifth Avenue to an eco-friendly knit collection and a line of sun and party dresses.
This story first appeared in the December 24, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
As part of its plan to build business through exclusive collections, Saks Fifth Avenue will launch Sinclaire 10 in 51 stores in March. Joe Boitano, Saks’ group senior vice president and general merchandise manager, worked closely with the label’s president and creative director, Paul Sinclaire, to develop what they hope will be a cross-generational contemporary collection that offers “nifty, low-key” wardrobe-building pieces.
“This is really about dancing with one partner,” rather than selling to multiple stores, Sinclaire said.
“I always consider where these clothes are going,” Sinclaire said during a preview at the company’s Meatpacking District showroom. “I loved those photos of Jackie Kennedy getting out of taxis when she was at Doubleday. She would be in her Les Copains sweaters and perfect Valentino pants. There are still a great group of women who want to dress that way.”
A drop-waist trenchcoat with a ruffled trim, a cardigan with a lace-covered shoulder, ruffled cotton blouses and sleeveless dresses are among the offerings. Sinclaire, whose résumé includes runs at Club Monaco, Dries Van Noten, Italian Vogue and Dolce & Gabbana, said his latest endeavor is intended for stylish working women. Art gallery owners such as Marianne Boesky, Mary Boone and Annie Cohan are among those who fit what he is after.
Sinclaire is also the creative force behind Tevrow + Chase, which is on hiatus this season and may be introduced in 2011 for select upscale stores such as Saks.
“It’s never about looking tricky,” he said. “Everything sort of has a nouveau preppy [look]. I am really interested in this market because so much of these clothes is about how you put them together.”
With retail prices ranging from $89 for a T-shirt to $399 for a coat, Sinclaire 10 is meant to appeal to women who may be pinched in these cost-conscious times. While Sinclaire contends the luxury customer will always seek labels such as Chanel and Hermès, he said the novelty of disposable fashion is waning. In addition, women in their 30s, 40s and 50s are not buying designer labels as much as they once did, Sinclaire said.
“But they want to look terrific and they want to look dashing,” he added. “This gives me an opportunity to do that at an affordable price. I don’t think fashion is going to be about supercheap clothes any more. That is just about over. People are beginning to think about clothes in a real and meaningful way. Unlike many designers, my inspiration does not generally change from season to season and month to month.”
Boitano, who met Sinclaire at a James Galanos presentation years ago, said he “has had such an amazing experience in the fashion business.” The retailer declined to comment on projected volume, but said they wanted to create a brand that would be unique to Saks.
“We want to offer our customers a chance to have fun with fashion,” Boitano said. “It’s really about capturing the items of the season.”
With homes in Toronto, New York and Washington, Sinclaire is determined to present items that will appeal to a broad range of women, not just those who live in major cities. In the coming months, he and SFA’s divisional merchandise manager, Chris Phillips, have agreed to take a cross-country trip to meet with Saks customers.
“I really want this to be their brand,” Sinclaire added.
It’s been some time since Juliane Camposano came up with her idea to launch a line of comfortable and luxurious contemporary knits, but for spring, she’s finally doing it.
“I discovered at a very young age that many of the knits available would irritate my sensitive skin,” she said. “But growing up in Germany, so close to the Denmark border, the weather was always quite chilly, so I needed these sweaters to keep warm.”
So, on a quest to find the softest fibers on the market, Camposano learned to sew at the age of eight and worked to find out more about designing knits that she could comfortably wear. Although she always wanted to eventually make this a real business, Camposano moved to Brooklyn from Germany 14 years ago and got a job in fashion and beauty advertising.
“I was making some of my own knits while working in advertising and my friends would make comments about how I should sell them,” she said. “And, at the same time, a couple of years ago, the green movement was really beginning. So I thought I might as well see if I can tap into this market.”
And Rosel was born. It is named after one of her great aunts.
“In the Thirties, she was a very progressive, modern woman,” she said. “She worked in Berlin as a fashion illustrator and designer and she had the most exquisite, effortless style. As a child, I would spend hours in her closet, just admiring her amazing clothes, and something about her just really stuck with me. So I thought it was only appropriate to name my company after her.”
Camposano has designed a collection for spring that will only be sold on her Web site, Roselwear.com. Prices will be from $150 to $400 and the line includes an array of items made in supersoft organic cotton and bamboo fabrics. There are dresses, shrugs, pants, tanks, jumpsuits and dresses in colors that range from bold coral and light pink to basic navy, black and white.
For fall, Camposano said she hopes to target the collection to high-end specialty retailers, as well as local Brooklyn boutiques.
Rolando Santana is hoping to add a little bit of Mexican flavor to the contemporary dress market.
After gaining years of design experience at labels, including Spenser Jeremy, Donna Morgan and Kellwood Co.’s Democracy dress line, the Cuernavaca, Mexico-born designer is set to launch his first namesake collection this spring.
“Some people tell me that I’m crazy to be launching a business in a recession, but I can’t help but think that for me, this is the right time for it,” Santana said at his newly designed showroom at 306 West 38th Street in Manhattan. “Through my experience in design and in production, I feel ready for this.”
Santana said for the initial collection, which will be ready to ship for Jan. 30 deliveries, he has mixed elements of his Mexican heritage with elements of the New York lifestyle. There are sundresses in bold yellow, blue, red and pink floral and stripe prints, as well as fully lined cotton shift dresses with exposed back zippers, belted silk shirt dresses, pleated knit dresses, sequin party dresses, black and tan trenchcoats designed to wear over the dresses, and a full assortment of little black dresses in a variety of daytime and cocktail styles.
The collection wholesales from $89 to $189, and for spring it will be sold in about 30 high-end specialty stores nationwide. Santana said he expects to reach about $1 million in first-year sales.