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More about the changes at Allyance

By Tiffany Montgomery
January 09, 2009 7:03 AM

After hearing that the players have changed at Allyance, I checked in with VP of Sales Jason Bergman and asked him some follow-up questions.

Allyance has split ways with the Blackhart Brotherhood, which includes well-known designer Johnny Monson, who has deep brand and retail contacts in the industry. Johnny and his team had been handling the design and marketing for Allyance.

I asked Jason how Allyance would replace Blackhart, if there was any concern about order cancellations, and the status of the brand's financial partner.

I spoke with Johnny several times, but he did not feel comfortable commenting on the situation.

Here are the questions I asked Jason, and his answers.

How many doors is Allyance currently in?

Our first inclusive men's line shipped late in May 2008. Since then we currently have over 400 specialty retailers. Our plan is to expand that domestically to another 100 doors for 2009 then provide those same doors with as much branding - signage, point-of purchase materials, windows - as possible so we can build more volume business together with them as partners.

Did the brand add stores in the fourth quarter?

Yes! We ended Q4 with the addition of many great specialty retailers including: Mainland, Katin, Pharmacy.com, Surf and Skate, SC Skate Shop, SBI Wavelengths, Skate Works, Kamea Meha, Becker Surf, Bora Bora, Hansen's, and Utility.




What happened to your business relationship with Blackhart Brotherhood? Have you hired new designers and marketing staff to handle their duties?

They were hired as a design and marketing firm, then we partnered with them and formed a new business, The Blackhart Allyance. The merger did not work. They are very great and talented guys, but we decided it was best to bring things in house and look at our business model differently moving into 2009. We worked with them a little over a year, before that we worked with a firm called The Machine. We continue to work with The Machine, and hope to work with The Blackhart guys again.

I'm hearing from other brands that retailers are delaying and/or canceling orders for spring. Is Allyance experiencing that?

Let's face it; there are a slew of brands out there. A lot of them have helped mold the industry as we know it and I do respect a lot of them - that's why we are here.

But the brands got very greedy, they have terrible distribution, and they are everywhere. What happened to SPECIALTY? I think a lot of retailers started looking around their stores, across the street, in the mall, in the big boxes, and took notice. Now they are looking at 2009, how to survive and how to make a profit. They look and brands like Allyance as something new and fresh and are putting dollars there, and we are very fortunate for that. We have received some cancelled orders but mostly for entire buying restructuring purposes.

Going forward for fall, what categories will Allyance offer? How is that different from fall 2008? What is the brand's strongest category currently?

Dale Rehberg and Jason BergmanFor fall, we are introducing our denim collection, something Allyance President Dale Rehberg (pictured on the left in the photo with Jason Bergman) and I take very seriously. We spent a year, we searched the world for the best denim, and after countless hours of research and travel, we found it. Then we matched it with subtle rinses, antique washes and treatments that we felt communicated to our customer. We will be launching it at ASR this January in San Diego.

Categories we had some sell-through with have been our jackets with lots of tonal branding and our flannel overshirts, lined with satin and military buttons.

The fall line, including the denim you mentioned, I'm assuming that was designed by the Blackhart guys since everything works so far in advance in the apparel business?

Allyance denimThe Blackhart guys designed some but not all of fall. We have a few other great designers in there that did fleece and printables (T-shirts, fleece). Dale Rehberg and I designed the denim.

Times are tough for all sectors of the economy. Has the economy/financial crisis impacted the ability of Allyance's New York financial partner to invest in the brand?

The brand is owned privately, and has always had the same owner since its inception. Allyance is moving forward and the funding is there.

What is next for Allyance?

If all goes to plan, it will be athletes. We will utilize them a lot more, and introduce lots of signature garments through them. We also will continue to push our snow category too, which will be a bigger extension of our fall line.





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