One of the first things tackled by Susan Sokol when she joined J. Mendel as president and chief operating officer in October 2008 was getting J. Mendel into more retail outlets. At the time Sokol joined the brand, which is credited with re-invented the concept of fur and is now designed by Gilles Mendel, the label had only 14 wholesale accounts including Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, and eight shops in cities such as New York, Chicago, Paris, and Aspen, Colorado.
Despite the present day tough economic times the luxury market is facing, Sokol is setting out to triple J. Mendel’s wholesale distribution. She tells WWD that they’re approaching this from a thoughtful, strategic standpoint and that she is working closely with Gilles Mendel who, in addition to being the designer, is the chief executive officer. There are plans to expand the range of price points to attract a wider mix of retail accounts, as well as plans to build up the bridal business. The projection in terms of number of wholesale accounts is 60 this year with a projected 150 accounts within three years.
Mendel says that there will be a lot more daywear on the runway for the Fall 2009 season and that the clothes will feel more accessible. The J. Mendel line will show in New York City during Fashion Week on February 18th at the Bryant Park tents. In addition, for the first time, there will also be a presentation in Paris during Paris Fashion Week where the line will be showcased to international retailers and press in a suite at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme hotel.