Grey, Jason Wu’s New Advanced Contemporary Collection

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GREY, the new ‘Day-oriented’ advanced contemporary collection.

With nearly 10 years of business under his belt, Jason Wu is ready to expand his universe with a new advanced contemporary line: Grey. “If you look back at my older collections, there were slightly girlier, casual elements,” said the designer at the new label’s showroom, an expansive Hunt Slonem bunny painting propped up behind him. “That’s where Grey came from; the more playful elements.”

It is an inspiration from his stylish friends.

The four-season collection, priced between $250 for a black henley pullover and $1,395 for a prettified navy-and-hunter green parka, will hit the sales floors of retailers including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman — as well as Greyjasonwu.com — on June 15.  “Everyone who knows me knows that grey is my favourite colour,” he said of the moniker. “And ‘ey’ is more chic.”

Wu is already establishing specific design codes for Grey, including topstitching details, asymmetrical pockets and tipping on the knitwear. “It’s subliminal branding,” he continued. “Non-branding.” He also plans on launching artist collaborations — something he’s done a few times in the past — regularly. First up is Slonem, whose brushstroke bunnies are printed onto silk dresses and separates. (The designer has always had a penchant for woodland animals, the owl being his namesake label’s mascot.) “It’s clothes for a lot of my friends,” he said. “They can’t really afford Jason Wu. I can’t really afford Jason Wu! I was pricing out a fur coat the other day and it was $70,000.”

This week, Wu began posting sketches and other visuals on Grey’s newly minted Instagram account and the designer said he will host events closer to the collection’s launch date in order to drum up consumer interest. BoF reported that, “It’s quite timely, but I do feel like with this collection and this price point that it’s very important to be driven toward consumers,” he said. “It doesn’t feel appropriate to show at Fashion Week.”

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He calls it a “sister” to the main line. “Overall, it’s more casual. It serves a different function,” he said. “But there is an elevation to the clothes and the fabrics. It’s not a cheaper version of Jason Wu.”

Importantly, this is not Wu’s first foray into the contemporary market. Miss Wu, a yearlong collaboration with Nordstrom, debuted at the department store in January 2013. “That was the pilot version for this,” Wu said. “It grew from that to here.” Indeed, the launch of Grey is just one element of the company’s strategy to expand the business, which sold a majority stake to the investment firm Interluxe in 2014.

The venture certainly reflects a unique moment in the 33-year-old Wu’s career. “I’ve grown up,” he said. “I feel very good about the direction of my brand, it’s very stable now. I’m at the point where I feel good about being able to establish this second part.”

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