By Andrea Lillo
Though Joseph Abboud is a well established apparel brand at 25 years old—having become JA Apparel Corp. in 2004—it’s not a company to sit around and wait, but to always keep moving forward like its customer, a world traveler hungry for new experiences. “The past is irrelevant,” said creative director Bernardo Rojo. “It’s done.”
In fashion, people don’t want to be shown the same thing, Rojo added, but want to be shown what’s new. For Joseph Abboud, what’s new is its latest home furnishings license, its first line of area rugs that will debut from Nourison at this month’s High Point Market, in Nourison’s new IHFC showroom, IH 101 InterHall. Launching with five collections, the line brings a look that does not exist in the rug industry today, said Alex Peykar, principal, Nourison. Joseph Abboud “is original,” he said. It brings something different to the Nourison line, which includes its other designer license, Calvin Klein. Joseph Abboud is “more transitional with a hint of traditional.”
Nourison was an easy choice to partner up with for Joseph Abboud, given Nourison’s vertical integration and distribution channels. “I can’t replicate that,” said Kenton Selvey, president, JA Brand Group, an extension of JA Apparel Corp. “Nourison can put value into the product. It was the right way to go.”
The new rug line incorporates Joseph Abboud’s values, such as the use of textures and natural materials, which “Joseph Abboud is known for,” said Rojo. One result was the mixture of cotton chenille with cowhide for dramatic tonal look in the handmade Chicago group ($1,199 for a 5’3” by 7’5”). With varying heights of cut and loop pile, the Modelo collection (a 5’6” by 7’5” will retail for $899) includes one herringbone design that has the impression of the Joseph Abboud logo.
“The rug industry is all about texture,” said Julie Rosenblum, brand manager, Nourison. For a new brand in the category, “it’s important to stay true to who you are and bring innovation.”
Joseph Abboud has changed a bit since Abboud the designer left in 2004, Rojo said. For example, the designer hated red, and there was never any red in the apparel collections. However, the handtufted Monterey line includes a bold red rug ($499 for a 5’3” by 7’4”) — “it’s so beautiful,” Rojo said. And of the Monterey collection, he said, “I adore it. It’s very modern, very contemporary.”
Abboud the designer was also against using synthetics, but several of the rug collections include them, such as viscose and polyester along with wool in Modelo. But that’s all a part of the company’s evolution forward. “It’s a different approach, that’s the beauty of it,” said Rojo. Each collection “has the same DNA, but it appeals to a different demographic.”
The last two collections are the Majestic collection ($799 for a 5’3” by 7’5”), which modernizes the classic Joseph Abboud paisley arrangement in scale and color and is powerloomed in China of 100 percent New Zealand wool; and the Opus collection, which features abrash patterns in transitional dual-tone designs and will retail for $799 for a 5’3” by 7’5”.
“It’s affordable luxury,” said Selvey. “The rug changes the dynamic of the room.”
Joseph Abboud has been in the home furnishings arena for a decade now, and its licensing revenue is about 15 to 20 percent of the company’s sales, said Selvey. Besides area rugs, categories now include luggage, fabrics, tabletop, bath accessories and wallpaper—with its sights on the furniture category next.
While this is the first time the company has gone into the rug category, Abboud himself bought rugs from markets all over the world, as he was a world traveler. And that’s Joseph Abboud’s customer, executives stress—a world traveler, someone who cares about style. “Today he’s here, but then he’s in Toyko and then Paris … The Joseph Abboud man is constantly on the go,” said Rojo.
The difference between a tourist and a traveler, said Selvey, is that “a tourist thinks about when they’re going home.” However, “the traveler may not come back.” And, similarly, Joseph Abboud only looks ahead. “We’re not coming back.”