Lending Contemporary Brands a Hand

Josh Sparks had a full plate but that didn't stop him from launching a new business.

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Josh Sparks had a full plate but that didn't stop him from launching a new business.

Sparks, who took Sydney-based contemporary label Sass & Bide from $5 million to $30 million in five years as chief executive officer, purchased the Imitation of Christ brand from former owner and designer Tara Subkoff in October. Sparks also runs the brand's contemporary diffusion label, Imitation, which is sold in stores such as Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. The Imitation brand launched in the spring and is on course to reach $4.5 million in wholesale volume for the first year, with projections of $25 million in three to five years, Sparks said.

Now, Sparks, who resides in New York, has opened the Rockwood Management Group, a consultancy for the contemporary and young designer fashion industry with offices at 28 West 36th Street in Manhattan.

"We first came up with the idea for this consultancy to provide the best services possible for Imitation," Sparks said. "When we were doing this, we began to think about all of these great creative designers out there who have to compromise on support when building their brands simply because they can't afford it."

Sparks hired experts in financial planning, production and distribution, marketing, Web design, technology services and graphics. Clients can set up the entire business end of their company with Rockwood, or establish one element. For example, if a company is lacking on the production side, Rockwood can create and manage the firm's entire production end.

Sparks has enlisted Irine Blyumin, formerly of Ernst & Young, to handle chief financial officer services; Spike Hubbard, who worked at the French design firm M/M (Paris), for graphic design, art direction and creative services, and Christopher Antonelli, who had stops at firms such as Betsey Johnson, Burberry and French Connection, to oversee all production management, operations and logistics services.

Sparks also draws on consultants, as needed. If a client needs help developing its denim business, for instance, Rockwood turns to Mark Wiesmayr, the ex-ceo of Ksubi, former denim director at Sass & Bide and senior designer at Levi Strauss & Co., to work with them.
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