“Advanced contemporary” and “upper contemporary” are part of the industry terminology bandied about for clothes priced around $500. The category has emerged as the hot market that everyone wants in on, including Zac Posen, who’s bringing Zac Zac Posen to the table. During a preview last week, Posen’s president, Jillian Sinel, classified the collection as “contemporary luxury or maybe gold range,” adding that it’s meant to compete with M Missoni, Red Valentino and Tory Burch, which have historically been grouped under the dusty department store parlance “bridge.” Whatever retail folk are calling it, “most importantly, the name is easy,” said Posen.
Three years ago, the designer introduced the quirkily titled lower-priced collection Z Spoke, a play on the word “bespoke,” in a much-hyped retail exclusive with Saks Fifth Avenue. Conceived as a young and affordable accompaniment to Posen’s romantic, often dramatic designer line, Z Spoke seemed to encounter a bumpy road: Saks eventually dropped it, and it’s now in limited distribution at Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor. Working on Z Spoke, where prices are under $200 and which makes up about 20 percent of Posen’s business, is what got him thinking about Zac Zac Posen. “In building into such strict price requirements for Z Spoke, we started to learn that with a slightly higher price point, you can get a lot more out of the product,” said Posen. “You can get a level of fabric quality that’s a lot nicer, and it enables it to expand into evening.” Posen is a celebrity red-carpet favorite, and his gowns feature prominently on his designer runway.
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