Modern Vintage’s New Era

NEW YORK — Modern Vintage is thinking big.

Now in its seventh year, the Montreal-based firm has aggressive plans to grow its portfolio of brands through new categories, designer collaborations and a venture into retail.

To better position itself for the expansion, the company recently conducted a major overhaul of its backend operations, investing in new infrastructure and systems, and beefing up its sourcing network. “We’ve had very rapid growth in the last several years, but we were still operating like a small business,” said CEO Rick Cytrynbaum. “Now we have the structure and systems in place to allow us to keep up with future growth.”

Among the company’s new initiatives, the Modern Vintage brand is moving into men’s footwear this spring. “Men’s is a really hot category right now, and we think having a men’s line will give the brand even more exposure in the market,” Cytrynbaum said. The assortment features roughly 50 styles, with a mix of contemporary and vintage-inspired looks, including biker boots, oxfords, sandals and slides.

Priced from $150 to $250, the collection will be sold in high-end department stores and boutiques globally. “We’re going after very specific men’s accounts. We want to build the men’s business in the same way as our women’s business, placing the line in the right doors and growing it very organically,” Cytrynbaum said.

Modern Vintage also plans to roll out apparel for men, likely in early 2015. The ultimate goal, Cytrynbaum said, is to build Modern Vintage into a full-scale, dual-gender lifestyle brand, encompassing everything from apparel and footwear to bags and eyewear. The strategy includes bowing branded stores, beginning next year. “Right now, we’re focusing on expanding our categories so that when we do open retail stores, we can have a full offering and make a big statement.”

The company’s House of Harlow 1960 brand, led by Nicole Richie, also is in expansion mode. Broadening the footwear line, which continues to be a growth driver, is a key focus. The collection will grow to 100 styles for spring and encompass a slightly wider range of price points. “We’re dropping prices on some styles to make the collection a little more accessible,” Cytrynbaum said. “We’ll have shoes priced anywhere from $125 to $295.”

Richie told Footwear News that strong-selling categories and items such as flats and boots have been expanded to better round out the offering. “Our girl is multidimensional, so we always make sure to give her an assortment of shoes for every occasion,” she said.

In addition, House of Harlow apparel is slated to roll out this spring. To build buzz, the brand also is exploring several women’s collaborations, including one with a European hat designer. And Richie, a mother of two, has her sights on the kids’ market. “Children’s shoes [are] definitely something I’m thinking about for the near future,” she said. “I want to develop a lifestyle brand, but I am taking my time to slowly develop each category, making sure each is done right.”

Modern Vintage’s Rosegold label, meanwhile, is set to exit wholesale. Cytrynbaum said discussions are underway for a major North American retailer to carry the brand exclusively. “It’s an opportunity for them to have a brand with its own distinct point of view, as opposed to competing with other retailers over the same brands and product.”

The company also continues to expand its private-label business and will venture into men’s private label to correspond with the debut of Modern Vintage men’s.

Behind the scenes, the firm has been bolstering its sourcing network, adding a number of new manufacturing partners. Modern Vintage now makes product in 14 countries. “We’re fully global; we can be more competitive,” Cytrynbaum said, adding that the company also hired additional production staff.

As it looks to the future, Modern Vintage is seeking an outside investor to help support long-term growth plans. “We’ve been in discussions, but we’re taking it slow,” Cytrynbaum said. “We’re looking for very specific things in an investor — we want a real partner, someone who understands our vision and where we want to take the company. This isn’t about cashing out and walking away.”