WWD | ROSEMARY FEITELBERG
After five seasons of designing men’s wear, Carlos Campos is adding women’s contemporary sportswear to his repertoire this spring.
The extension has always been part of his business strategy — the men’s side of things just happened to evolve more organically. During an interview Wednesday in his West 35th Street showroom in New York, the designer said while growing up in Honduras, he learned the ropes working for his father after school in one of the two tailor shops his family owned there. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Campos started making suits for select male clients and his signature collection sprang from that.
While he has offered a few women’s pieces each season, he will unveil the 60-style women’s collection for spring with a presentation and party on Sept. 11 during New York Fashion Week at Twelve21, a West 21st Street event space that was once home to the Sound Factory. The sleek interior is similar to the one in his showroom and the one in his two-month-old freestanding store in Honduras, as well as the work of architect Tadao Ando, who, along with photographer Richard Pare, was a source of inspiration for the premiere women’s collection. To emphasize his point, Campos presented a book of Ando’s creations, noting how traces of a rounded stairway can be seen in a futuristic two-layer blouse or how an image of a reflection pool is reminiscent of a print for a short dress.
Campos, who is working with Robert Burke & Associates, said the recession offers an opportunity for emerging designers, since many department stores and specialty stores are trying to differentiate themselves. Geared to be at the opening price range for contemporary sportswear, wholesale prices range from $30 for a T-shirt to $300 for a dress.
“We wanted to have consistent price points and keep the design element,” said Campos, Fashion Group International’s Rising Star for men’s wear for 2008-09. “In times like these, we also want to support the people who produce our clothes. We have to support each other for a while and deliver a higher quality without breaking price.”
Eighty percent of the collection is made in New York, with the remaining 20 percent produced in Honduras. The designer’s freestanding store in his homeland has exceeded sales expectations despite the political unrest stemming from Manuel Zelaya’s ousting as president.
“It hasn’t affected us in any way there,” he said of the political situation. “We’re doing really well there.”
The designer has been scouting locations in the Meatpacking District for his first store in the U.S., which he expects to open next year. On another front, he has collaborated with Danielle and Jodie Snyder, the designer sisters behind the Dannijo jewelry collection, to develop pieces for his presentation.