If Cheryl's story about mysterious cosmetics brand ColourPop got you thinking about social media-focused brands and their origin stories (or lack thereof), consider this new contemporary ready-to-wear label set to hit retailers like Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Saks and Shopbop this spring.
Likely was conceived not by a designer-entrepreneur but by Crystal Slattery, the president of contemporary at Jaya Apparel Group, a 34-year-old Los Angeles-based company with offices in New York that manufactures children's, juniors' and women's contemporary fashion, operating an extensive network of factories around the world. Most notably, it launched and sold denim brand 7 for All Mankind and helped Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen launch Elizabeth & James, which generated $100 million in retail sales in 2015. The Olsens recently ended their contract with Jaya to bring all design and production in-house. And as that contract wound down, Jaya prepared two new contemporary labels for launch in 2016: Cinq à Sept, a very cool and "fashion-y" (for lack of a better word) "advanced contemporary" line debuting at Saks and Neiman Marcus for pre-fall; and Likely, which skews slightly younger and is priced lower, around $200.
Likely's debut collection is comprised primarily of flattering, versatile, no-brainer dresses in a wide range of eye-catching colors that feel relevant without being too trendy, simple without being "basic." Better yet, the price point is good for the quality. Having helped build brands like the aforementioned, Slattery has naturally developed strong relationships with retailers, for which Jaya has become a trusted resource. "We have really strong retail relationships and they are constantly talking about what the white space is," she says. "We really saw an opportunity to create fantastic dresses at compelling price points." The needs of multi-brand retailers was not the only starting point; the other was social media.
"We know the contemporary customer has a lot of moments in her life she wants to document, oftentimes on Instagram or social media, and she doesn't want to be seen wearing the same dress twice." Yes, we as a society have reached the point when selfie potential is something that a significant portion of the population considers while shopping. Primarily, the 16- to 24-year-olds Likely is targeting with its branding. What a time to be alive.
"Our brand was conceived in the digital age," she explains. "When you're looking at a screen, some of the wardrobe choices you've made in the past, they don't read, whereas something that may have felt too loud or too fun or too punchy in real life, when you see it in a tiny little phone screen, it actually really works." Hence the focus on making each product available in an array of bright colors, so that if you find a silhouette you love, you can just order another one online in a new color for your upcoming, selfie-filled night out.
"I was thrilled when the team at Jaya approached us about this new line," Jen Daft, the divisional merchandise manager for contemporary sportswear at Bloomingdale's, who has worked with Jaya for years, told Fashionista in an email. "It was described as a sharply priced, sexy, dress-based line catering to millennial consumers, who have become a major focus for Bloomingdale's."
Product is set to hit stores during the second week of February and Likely plans to launch its own e-commerce at the end of February. Slattery says Likely will expand into separates for pre-fall and will add a new category each season, always focusing on color, for prime Instagram-ability. See Likely's debut collection below.