Defiant During By Richard Collings Published: July 30, 2009 During the worse economic downturn since the Great Depression, sometimes merely staying in business and maintaining revenues is a revelation. Being defiant when no one is buying might come in the form of a runway collection that changes a label’s trajectory. It could be that defiance comes not on the runway, but off it, launching a diffusion line with no fashion show and no advertising in a recession. Tuleh, and the partnership behind it consisting of designer Bryan Bradley and its president Marco Cattoretti, is doing all three.
Tough Times: Tuleh
Company Ships First Season Of
Namesake Line Bryan Bradley
To Neiman Marcus
The private New York City-based company pulled off a bit of a coup a little over a year ago when it sold a 49% stake to Trilea Partners, attracting private equity investment during what were the early stages of a difficult period for fashion. In hindsight, the recession had begun much earlier, but the financial crisis that would send shock waves through the economy and the fashion world had yet to come to a head that fall.
The aim of the investment was to give Tuleh the additional resources to grow, Cattoretti said. Instead, Tuleh survived the “worst year ever” in the fashion business--a period that no one currently working in the industry had ever experienced.
As to how large that investment was, Cattoretti would only say it wasn’t as much as $20 million, in which case, “I’d be in
Cattoretti said Tuleh expects its revenues to be flat this year at around $8 million to $10 million, which at the least, maintains the label, and allows it to continue to have a runway presentation.
The biggest project for the company is launching its namesake Bryan Bradley diffusion line, Cattoretti explained, upon which the company’s future expansion depends, while maintaining the Tuleh line, which he described as American-made couture sportswear.
He said that Tuleh first approached Neiman Marcus with the diffusion line and the retailer was very receptive, putting it in five of its retail locations during “the most horrendous season,” in addition to selling the company’s clothing online.
Cattoretti, in fact, just returned from the luxury retailer’s twice annual conclave in
The Bryan Bradley line for the fall season, its first, just shipped two weeks ago to Neiman Marcus, Cattoretti said, with pieces such as dresses retailing in the $300 range and cardigans and jackets in the $200 range, for example.
The patterns are made in
Cattoretti said the company was fortunate to have a production manager from
In the past, labels usually needed to order a certain quantity before they would be entertained by Chinese-based producers, but Cattoretti agreed that manufacturers there are more open to making smaller numbers of garments, focusing more on boutique luxury manufacturing.
This could be in hopes of developing relationships early on and investing in the potential of a brand to generate future business. It may also be the result of countries such as Vietnam gradually eroding away some of China's apparel production business due to factors such as cheaper labor, though Cattoretti was uncertain about this premise.
Concerning the Tuleh line, it continues to be manufactured in
When the Tuleh line, which tends to carry a price tag of around $1,200 at retail for a dress, was launched in 1988, it helped to pioneer the
For spring ready-to-wear Tuleh, to differentiate itself, will be more focused on the woman who works, with sportswear for everyday life, experimenting with new techniques, citing plastic as the new embroidery of the future, Cattoretti said. He said he hopes that the Tuleh customer remains loyal despite the shift.
As for Tuleh’s future two-to-five years down the road and the possibility of attracting additional investment, Cattoretti said it is difficult to project. For now, it is a business that can only be run day-to-day. The company is very focused on ensuring that the Bryan Bradley diffusion line is successful, and has no plans to expand yet to footwear, handbags or fragrance. When the right partner can be found and a solid long-term strategy can be put in place for delving into those product categories, as well as licensing in general, then the company may consider it, but there’s no rush.
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By Richard Collings
Published: July 30, 2009
During the worse economic downturn since the Great Depression, sometimes merely staying in business and maintaining revenues is a revelation.
Being defiant when no one is buying might come in the form of a runway collection that changes a label’s trajectory.
It could be that defiance comes not on the runway, but off it, launching a diffusion line with no fashion show and no advertising in a recession.
Tuleh, and the partnership behind it consisting of designer Bryan Bradley and its president Marco Cattoretti, is doing all three.