Robert Stock was ready for a new challenge. So the Coty Award-winning designer and founder of the successful Robert Graham label has launched a new, upscale men’s collection for fall.
Called simply R, the line offers a full assortment of sport shirts, knitwear, pants, sport coats, outerwear and accessories in less embellished options than the Robert Graham assortment.
“I love Robert Graham, but I’ve been doing it for 15 years,” Stock said. “So I wanted to challenge myself.”
Sean Hieter, vice president of men’s sales for Robert Graham, said he “pushed Robert to do this to expose our company to a new demographic and luxe customer who hasn’t stepped into the brand yet, to get back a customer we may have lost due to a closet full of Robert Graham, and to [appeal to] our existing following who have loved everything we have ever done.”
He said R by Robert Graham offers “emotional items for emotional sales.”
Stock sees R by Robert Graham stacking up against such high-end brands as Brunello Cucinelli and Luciano Barbera. The line uses nearly all Italian fabrics and is manufactured in Italy. “We had been buying fabrics there, but not manufacturing there,” he said. “It’s amazing to work with factories that are over 100 years old and are simply interested in making beautiful clothes.”
Among the key items are five-ply cashmere sweaters; a charcoal-gray and houndstooth reversible vest; a vest with a traditional blue pinstripe front; and a patterned knit-back and woven-leather bow ties.
Many of the shirts, one of Stock’s signatures, have subtle design elements such as owl eyes or peace signs that look like polka dots, or skulls woven into jacquard shirts. A plain white button-down looks traditional from the front, but its back has a large print of Muhammad Ali. The lining of the garments is a map of the world.
Stock said many of these patterns are not recognizable until one gets up close, and that sense of discovery is part of the fun.
But there are also some pretty serious pieces, notably a cashmere blazer with a zip-out lining and suede sleeves that will retail for $2,495.
The only piece not made in Italy is a waterproof cotton Ventile cloth trench from England.
Overall, prices for shirts start at $395, sweaters at $595 to $2,500, jackets and outerwear from $795 to $3,000 and accessories at $295 to $500. A Robert Graham shirt, in comparison, retails for around $228 on average.
Stock said unlike Robert Graham, whose distribution is “very wide,” the R line will be targeted to only a handful of specialty stores. The line won’t even be sold at the Robert Graham stores, except possibly the Venice, Calif., unit. And it won’t be available online.
“This is a special capsule collection,” he said.
Stock, who started his fashion career in the Sixties and had a line under his own name in the Seventies, said he could easily kick back and play golf, but he’s not ready to call it a career yet.
Connecticut-based Tengram Capital Partners, a private-equity firm, bought a majority stake in Robert Graham in June 2011 and, since then, has doubled its volume by licensing the name into a number of different categories and opening several stores.