NEW YORK, United States — Steven Alan faced a dilemma. After downsizing his business during a sales slump, he no longer had the scale he needed to produce a full assortment of his namesake brand. A new licensing deal with a New York-based apparel company aims to solve that problem.
Starting in the spring of 2019, Steven Alan will return to wholesale after a year-long break through a licensing partnership with Jachs NY, which sells its namesake line at Bloomingdales and Stitch Fix, among other retailers. Jachs NY's existing infrastructure is also of value: the company will oversee production, development, sales and distribution of Steven Alan’s men's and womenswear lines outside of its own stores and website.
The partnership gives Alan space to focus on stabilising his 24-year-old, multi-brand boutique business and survive the challenges that have fundamentally upended retail over the last several years. He plans to soon further cull his store network to just two locations in New York; two years ago, he had 23 shops in the US, four Steven Alan optical stores and 6 licensed in Japan. The eyewear license ended in 2017 and this year Alan exited his wholesale business, retaining only a handbag license with Bag Studio. There are 5 stores in Japan, in partnership with United Arrows.
“It was kind of a 180-degree change for me in terms of the way that I thought about what I was going to do with the business,” Alan told BoF about returning to wholesale. “I’m very cautious in terms of making sure that the execution is there and I was really impressed with [Jachs NY’s] ability to execute.”
Jachs NY was founded in 2008 by Hayati Banastey. In addition to its namesake brand, the company is also the licensor for C&C California and is developing a line for television host Mario Lopez.
Alan will advise Jachs NY’s design team, which will focus on reviving Steven Alan’s most well-known styles, including men’s shirting. The debut collection will feature 60 to 70 pieces released over monthly capsules that Allen Dushi, Jachs NY’s director of sales, said will be well-suited for specialty boutiques as well as higher-end department stores such as Barneys, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.
“For us, Steven lives in a place in the market that we’ve never been able to get to ourselves with our brand,” said Dushi, adding that Jachs NY will work with high-end Japanese and Italian fabric mills, among others, on the line. The price point will be similar to what Steven Alan customers were accustomed to, about $175 to $195 for wovens. “We want to take what he has been doing, and what he is known for, and offer that back into the wholesale market where it’s been missing,” added Dushi.
“I wish that I had found Jachs sooner because it really is another business [stream],” said Alan, who has been candid about the challenges facing his business model, which he described as “a department store in a specialty store body” to BoF in 2017.
Alan opened his first multi-brand store on Wooster Street in New York in 1994, and he soon became known curating and fostering emerging brands, later opening a sales showroom in New York and Los Angeles. In 2011, he took an investment from Bedrock Manufacturing, the private equity firm owned by Fossil founder Tom Kartsotis. Bedrock, which now fully owns the showroom that rebranded as Franklin St. in 2017, is no longer an investor in Steven Alan. While Alan has sought additional investment in recent years, he has not raised more capital.
“Right now, really the focus is fully on this [partnership], making sure that this is successful and that this is how the business is going to grow,” he said.