Robert Geller is branching out.
A perennial men’s wear favorite who launched his namesake collection in 2007, Geller will introduce an entirely new line for spring during New York Fashion Week: Men’s.
Called Gustav von Aschenbach, the collection will be lower priced than his namesake line and will make its debut at a presentation at Cadillac House at noon on July 11.
“This is a completely new project,” he said. “It is not a diffusion line.” As such, the collection will not bear his name anywhere on it. “I don’t want people to see it as a secondary line,” he stressed.
“I was trying to look at the market and see where there’s an opportunity,” he explained. Realizing that retailers were drawn to the Robert Geller collection but that its designer-level price points put the line out of reach for some, he set out to provide an alternative.
“We’re working with a new partner in Japan on this and found some great factories to produce it,” he said. So while the initial idea was to just test the new concept, it turned out so well that he will offer 40 styles in five separate colorways for a 200-piece collection. “When I saw the samples, I thought it can be really big.”
Geller, who continues to partner with Asian powerhouse Onward Global Fashion on the Robert Geller collection, declined to provide the name of his new partner.
He said Gustav von Aschenbach will be “easy for a guy to understand in terms of shape and silhouette.”
Price points will range from $180-$250 for shirts, $200-$280 for pants, $400 for jackets and up to $650 for outerwear. “It’s significantly more affordable than Robert Geller,” he said.
As a result of the launch of this new line, the designer said he will hold back on showing the Robert Geller collection until January as a way to capture some of the buzz around the see-now-buy-now movement. “And it will also give this new collection a chance to have its day.”
He said Gustav von Aschenbach is expected to appeal to many of the same retailers who carry the Robert Geller collection, including Barneys New York and Bloomingdale’s, as well as other men’s stores seeking a more-affordable alternative.
The new line takes its name from the main character of Thomas Mann’s novel, “Death in Venice,” and the German-born Geller said it’s “about wearability, comfort and ease, new, special yet wearable shapes, a great product at a great price point.”
He said the details and prints will be “pulled back a bit” from what he offers in the Robert Geller collection, but it will still offer comfortable, oversize silhouettes that are “easy and not too tricky.”
He said Gustav von Aschenbach is being given “the same attention and love” as the Robert Geller collection, and also affords the designer the opportunity to “treat Robert Geller as the beautiful gem it has always been meant to be.” He said he had been trying to spread the collection too thin in order to meet the demands of lower price points, and opted instead to create something entirely new.
The Robert Geller collection is known for its romantic edge, strong color palette and unusual textures and has annual sales of a reported $5 million.
Kevin Harter, vice president of fashion direction for Bloomingdale’s, has said Geller is “a barometer of what’s going to happen” in men’s wear and is consistently two to three seasons ahead of other designers, while Jay Bell, senior vice president of designer men’s wear for Barneys New York, has said Gellers’ line is “born of the New York streets tempered with a European elegance.”
Geller, who was nominated for the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s men’s wear award earlier this year, graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2001 and joined Marc Jacobs in New York as an intern before teaming up with Alexandre Plokhov to revamp the Cloak brand, a collection that would win the duo the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award in 2003 and a Vogue/CFDA grant in 2004. With his Robert Geller brand, he won the CFDA Swarovski Award for men’s wear in June 2011. Since that time, he has branched out into denim, accessories and shoes.