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Building Rag & Bone: A Growth Spurt in Women's

Rag & Bone, which was a men's denim brand when it launched in 2001, has undergone considerable change.

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Looks from Rag & Bones first pre-fall collection
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NEW YORK — Rag & Bone, which was a men's denim brand when it launched in 2001, has undergone considerable change.

Although the brand still has an extensive men's wear offering, the women's segment of the business has far surpassed the men's. When co-founder Marcus Wainwright and business partner David Neville launched women's in 2005, they said they hoped to reach $1 million in annual sales. Now, Neville said they see the women's segment generating more than $10 million in wholesale volume this year.

"Last year we had four employees — we now have 28," Neville said. "The demand at retail has just been so high. Our women's business has grown so much. At this point, it's four times larger than the men's."

Rag & Bone sells women's contemporary sportswear to about 120 high-end stores such as Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman. This is the first year the company has added both full resort and pre-fall collections, only for the women's wear section of the business. In addition, Wainwright and Neville have teamed with Manolo Blahnik to design a Manolo Blahnik for Rag & Bone women's shoe line, which will make its debut on the runway during New York Fashion Week next month and will be sold in Manolo Blahnik stores beginning in the fall. They also will add a cashmere collection for fall and will get more into accessories, designing hats, scarves and handbags in-house.

Wainwright, who concentrates on the design, and Neville, the business executive, said they are looking to open their first freestanding store before June.

"We have been looking for a space very seriously for awhile now," Wainwright said. "We think it's really the best way for us to show off the brand in its own environment."

Neville said he would like the space to be in the West Village here, but not on a main street, and be a true "neighborhood destination."

The partners have just moved to an 8,000-square-foot loft in the Meatpacking District here after outgrowing their space at 80 West 40th Street. The new location had been the work space of sculptor Matthew Barney.
"He began to feel restricted, since his sculptures could only be as large as the elevator in the building," Neville said, laughing. "I don't foresee us having that problem."

The loft houses the entire staff, as well as the design space and rows of fabrics, all of which are purchased from Japan. The collection is manufactured in New York, New Jersey, Kentucky and in North Carolina-based factories. Neville said that makes it easier to keep a handle on their work. The Rag & Bone collection wholesales from $50 to $750.

Next up, the partners are preparing for their fall show, which is set for Feb. 1 here. A time and place have not been confirmed.