BERLIN — Basler has taken full corporate control of its American sales activities.
This story first appeared in the July 6, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The German women’s wear brand has operated in the U.S. via a joint venture with Howard Aubrey and the Isabella Co. for the last 26 years. The Goldbach, Germany-based firm has now set up an American subsidiary, with a new showroom at 499 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. Aubrey will continue to act as a consultant to the company and as a link to the new 10-person American team.
Markus Wahl, managing director for sales and trade marketing, said Basler USA will be headed by “a person known in the industry who has worked with international and national suppliers in Europe, England and the U.S. We cannot name him at this time, but he will join the company on Sept. 1. He has extensive wholesale and retail experience, and retail is crucial for us.”
The classic women’s wear line is currently carried in about 200 premium doors in the U.S. and Canada, and Wahl said further developing wholesale is key. At the same time, Basler is gearing up for a retail push, and sees a potential for 20 to 25 Basler brand stores over the next five years, including two stores planned on Madison Avenue and Rodeo Drive over the next two years. Basler currently operates three fully owned stores and two joint-venture shops in the U.S., as well as 15 shop-in-shops in Bloomingdale’s. “59th Street is one of the most successful, and generates $1 million at retail,” Wahl stated.
With ex-Escada designer Brian Rennie now on board as managing and creative director, the collection is also at a stylistic turning point. Rennie will present his first Basler collection, including a capsule gown range today during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin. He said he wants to make Basler a bit more fashion forward and give it a touch of glamour, taking care not to alienate the brand’s regular customers, whom Rennie nonetheless asserts want more of a fashion injection. “This won’t be supertrendy, young and hip, but very colorful and feminine with a floral motif throughout. We’re pushing the wow factor with the gowns. And we’ll even have Hollywood in the front row,” he exclaimed. Actress Mira Sorvino is expected to attend the Berlin show.