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Tiffany Montgomery
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Howe targets new channels with tiered line

By Tiffany Montgomery
February 28, 2008 5:20 AM

Jade Howe is trying something new with his rock ‘n roll inspired fashion line for men. He's created three collections within the line to reach different distribution channels called "Moods of Rock."


Jade, who previously worked for Quiksilver, sold his company to Seattle Pacific Industries in 2006.


Here's how the different tiers breakdown, why he decided to take this approach, and which retailers are on board for fall. Jade also has some nice words for Bob McKnight.


The breakdown

Howe indieIndie (right): Clean fast fashion with a more attainable price than the original collection.

Tokyo/Hong Kong inspired. From $36 for Tees to $250 for suits.

Luxe (photo not available): European high-end fabrics, fully-tailored suits, outerwear, and denim. Suits are $650 to $850, denim $225 to $325, and knits $95 to $125.

Classic (below and bottom): The look that built Howe. From $48 to $56 for Tees, $145 to $165 for denim, and $350 for suits.


Why separate the line this way?


"It was a very organic separation. Once we took a hard look at our distribution, and diversity of our customer, it was almost as if they did it for us. We were trying to design for these three different groups in the same collection. It was confusing, didn't seem well-merchandised. It's as tight and focused as we ever been."


Will the different lines go in different distribution channels?


Howe classic"Yes. That was the original intention. We saw the opportunity to open up our select distribution mostly to Americas top tier retailers. However, what we're finding is that a good chunk of our existing accounts seem to have as diverse of a customer base in their stores as we do as a whole. Most are pulling from two of the three collections. Several accounts can actually carry all three."


Did you have to hire more people?


"We have increased the size of our design and marketing team. Designing three collections is the right kind of challenge. The kind that inspires you, instead of burning you out. The collection is the same size, actually a few SKUs smaller than our past two collections. It's just super potent."


Do the resources of Seattle Pacific Industries (SPI) make it possible?


Howe classic"Yes. Absolutely. It's not only the funding, but the stellar support of the backend. Our production teams at SPI, both here in LA, as well as in Hong Kong, are top notch. My partners believe in our direction 1000%. They have truly helped guide us in countless ways."


How hard is it to play in the men's luxury market?


"With the right product and positioning, not very hard. In fact one of our new accounts out of Dallas wanted to know if the $295 -$695 (quoted retail prices) for the outerwear and tailored suit jackets were our wholesale prices. It's a whole new ball game.


"We've been dieing to be part of this world. We are taking it slow. The collection is only 28 pieces. We are keeping it the same for Spring 09 and we're only going to do four deliveries a year.


"America needed a men's fashion point of view that wasn't overly feminine. I mean really; how many men relate to European runway?"


Any new retailers signing on for fall?


"We brought on 34 A+ premium accounts at this past Project Vegas show. Twenty four were on our prospect list, and the others were mostly killer accounts from foreign countries. Some accounts like Universal Gear out of Washington D.C. have been on our radar for a while. It took this presentation to land them. They have a short list of collections they back such as Diesel, G-Star, Energie, Levi's, Calvin Klein, and now Howe.


"We also expanded in all doors of Metro Park and M Fredric with both Classic and Indie. If you are in the fashion game, and you don't offer women's, a concept like the "Moods of rock" is really the only way to survive. Just look at most mature designer brands. They all do have to do it eventually."


Any big surprises - good or challenging - as your relationship with SPI progresses?


"Like any new relationship, there's always the pre-date jitters. We held hands for a while and are now fully in bed. We're really blessed to have an opportunity to bring Howe to fruition. To be able to design to your vision with virtually no creative boundaries. Isn't that the dream of most designers? That's the one they sold me in design school. I didn't really think it would ever happen. Well, it is happening, and I couldn't be more stoked. Thanks for giving me my start Bob McKnight!!!"


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