NEW YORK — Etienne Aigner, the storied accessories brand with a European heritage, is entering the ready-to-wear category for fall.
This story first appeared in the March 7, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The brand, which was bought for North and South America in 2011 by an Australian/Hong Kong family, has been on the comeback trail after becoming overdistributed and losing its cachet in the marketplace under prior ownership. It relaunched handbags for spring 2013 and will relaunch footwear for fall.
The company ended various licensing deals, such as the footwear partnership it had with Brown Shoe Co., and is producing all categories, such as handbags, jewelry, footwear and the apparel line, in-house.
Daniela Anastasio Bardazzi joined the brand two years ago as creative director. She designed a small test of rtw for fall 2013 for the firm’s own 3,500-square-foot store on Greene Street here, as well as online. Fall will mark the beginning of wholesale distribution.
Having worked at Isaac Mizrahi and Michael Kors, Bardazzi said designing “was a personal mission. What do I need? What is the dream closet I’d build for myself?”
The Aigner rtw collection includes such looks as a wool cocoon coat, easy pants with touches of leather, a black wool-and-leather dress, a black-and-white graphic printed coat (where the sleeves zip off to make a vest), a long, stretch leather skirt and several fur pieces. It is manufactured in Italy.
Tops and bottoms wholesale from $98 to $150; skirts wholesale from $118 to $158; dresses wholesale from $150 to $230, and jackets/outerwear wholesale from $198 to $450. Fall will feature 25 styles and three deliveries that will begin July 15. Fabrics include wool, Neoprene, cotton shirting, double crepe, leather, stretch jacquard, PU-coated cotton (fake leather), denim, napa leather, casentino wool, suede, tech twill and double-face wool.
“It’s a truly American collection with an approachable European designer aesthetic,” said Jane Seo, chief merchandising officer. Seo said in Europe, Etienne Aigner has always been a designer of accessories and apparel. When the new owners of the North and South American Etienne Aigner brand bought it, they took the inventory down to zero and shut down distribution. “They’re deeply committed to repositioning the brand,” said Seo.
The apparel is being targeted to stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and Bergdorf Goodman and is expected to hang near such resources as Vince, Theory and Burberry Brit. It is geared to a woman in her 30s and 40s who is a “very independent thinker, a world traveler and has a very busy lifestyle,” said Seo.
Rtw will account for 20 percent of the U.S. business. In the U.S., the company projects it will generate $2 million in retail sales at the store, and another $1 million in e-commerce in the first year. Company officials declined to give a first-year projection for the wholesale apparel business.
Oscar E. Valencia has returned as president of footwear, having been group president from 1999 to 2001, and earlier worked in footwear sales for the brand. All of the footwear is manufactured in Spain. The footwear wholesales from $125 to $150 and is targeted to the contemporary area.
“Stores are looking for people who can create fashion and volume,” he said, pointing to croc-embossed pumps, elephant-grain embossed riding boots, black-and-white spectator shoes and zip-front ankle boots.