Jay Litvack Set to Launch Namesake Line

NEW YORK — Industry veteran Jay Litvack is striking out on his own.

The executive, who launched private-label business JSL Studio International in 2008, is bowing his own women’s line called J. Litvack, for fall ’11. The brand will debut this week at FFANY.

Litvack, whose late father Saul Litvack founded Erica Shoe Co., said his daughters’ fascination with footwear was a large part of his decision to start his new venture.

“I have two daughters who are at a period in their lives where they’re into fashion and they understand it,” he said. “It became apparent that I needed to get back into what I do best, which is building product and marketing it.” Prior to founding JSL International, Litvack played a significant role in creating Boutique 9 for Nine West, Steven by Steve Madden and Me Too footwear.

Litvack, who is producing the shoes in Portugal, described his new women’s collection as having a menswear inspiration and artisan look. “I wanted [a] sporty, casual type of footwear,” he said. “That’s what Portugal does best.”

Retail prices will range from $135 to $200 for shoes and $200 to $400 for boots and booties. Litvack is targeting high-end department stores. “The product is priced at a range that would be the opening price point for Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue, which is advantageous because it could be carried at all their doors,” he said.

In addition to department stores, the founder said he is aiming for independents that can relay the sophistication of his product, such as Shoebox New York, Kitson in Los Angeles and Koko & Palenki in Miami.

“It’s a quality product at the appropriate price point,” said Shoebox New York founder Richard Kirschenbaum, who saw photographs of the collection. “Jay’s very talented, and I’m certainly open to taking a good look at his brand.”

Boston-based Tannery buyer Lisa Gorlicki is optimistic about J. Litvack footwear. “Hopefully I’ll see something fresh, whether it’s new materials or different lasts,” she said. “I know [Jay’s] skill set, and he always has a finger on what’s trending in fashion.”

A&E Stores buyer Lorrie Krady also has confidence in the potential of Litvack’s brand, but was concerned about economic challenges. “It’s a tough grind for everybody out there, even for brands that are already established,” she said. “Nobody knows how the economy is going to pan out, but if the line is different and interesting, Jay has a chance at being successful.”

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