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July 22 2014

styledotcom Is activewear as ready-to-wear really so revolutionary? Norma Kamali's been doing it since the '80s. stylem.ag/1o1xLOi

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2 posts tagged "Cooper & Ella"

Cooper & Ella Succeeds With Basic Tops That Are “the Least Expensive Thing in the Most Expensive Stores”

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Cooper & Ella

Kara Mendelsohn launched Cooper & Ella just over a year ago with a singular, focused concept: offering pretty, versatile tops—all of those cliché phrases like “day to night” and “desk to dinner” apply here—at an ultra-affordable price point. With nearly two decades of industry experience in sales and merchandising (in addition to running KBL eyewear with her husband), Mendelsohn recognized this “white space” in the market and dove in. So far, her business plan has proved to be a lucrative one. Since its debut, Cooper & Ella has been picked up by major retailers including Saks, Neiman Marcus, Shopbop, and Harvey Nichols. “The awesome prices [ranging from $78 to $150] have been the key to my quick acceptance by the big guys. Basically, I’m the least expensive thing in the most expensive stores. People don’t need to wait for it to go on sale,” said Mendelsohn at a preview of her Fall ’14 collection. While the blouses are comparatively cheap, the quality level is there. Each piece features subtle designer details such as picot stitching, fagoting, or delicate gold hardware. Mendelsohn already thinks like a buyer, so she considers practical concerns like: Can you wear a bra with this? Is this fabric too sheer to wear to the office? Can you wash it? “My customers love design and fashion but ultimately need it to work for them in their everyday lives.” Highlights from the new collection include deep V-neck tops with an open back (yep, still works with a bra), as well as playful printed styles and easy tanks that have a multilayered look. At a price point like this, we’ll take one for each day of the week. Cooper & Ella’s swift success also made me contemplate why more up-and-coming designers aren’t starting out with this item-driven model. Surely, nailing down a signature early on paves the way for introducing more categories down the line…Young designers, Mendelsohn is available for consulting, by the way.

For more information, visit CooperAndElla.com.

Kara Mendelsohn of KBL Eyewear’s Newest Vision

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We all want a closetful of go-with-everything, silk Equipment shirts for each day of the week, but at around $200 a pop, that’s wishful thinking for many of us. Enter Kara Mendelsohn, who just launched a capsule collection of ultra-affordable, staple blouses named Cooper & Ella (a tribute to her two children). After working in sales and merchandising the past 17 years for successful brands like Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, and Thakoon, as well as starting up KBL Eyewear with her husband in 2009, Mendelsohn knows a thing or two about what the market is lacking. “Stores often ask me if I know of a brand that offers blouses at a niche, opening price point of $68-$88 that are chic, modern, and fun for their clients. So voilà, [I had] a business plan,” Mendelsohn told Style.com. “Our girl has sophisticated taste, buying high and low. She is looking for a great top to wear on date night, dinner with friends, at work, or just running around on the weekends.” With 30 styles featuring four different prints and thoughtful details like split sleeves, delicate lace paneling in back, and keyhole necklines, these pieces will seamlessly mix into most modern wardrobes. The blouses make their debut here on Style.com and we’re confident they will be in major retail shops soon.

Photos: Courtesy of Nico Iliev / Cooper & Ella