By Alison A. Nieder | Thursday, August 11, 2016
Most buyers know Raffi Mauleon from his 15 years as vice president of sales and merchandising for Los Angeles collection Citron, but the designer’s career has also included working with West Coast labels Sue Wong, L. Bates and Product by Elaine Kim.
During the Aug. 15–18 run of the Women’s Wear in Nevada (WWIN) trade show, Mauleon will officially debut his own collection, Raffi.
The art-driven collection is launching with tops in two fabrications, 100 percent cotton slub and a rayon/spandex. Part of the collection features Mauleon’s signature graphics, including Asian-inspired designs and calligraphy.
“I’m known for integrating artwork and putting it in a garment,” Mauleon said. “It’s a canvas interpreted on a garment.”
The balance of the collection features innovative dye techniques Mauleon has developed with local dye houses. The abstract designs recall a Jackson Pollock splatter print or a traditional tie-dye pattern, but the actual techniques used are closely guarded trade secrets, Mauleon said.
“It’s not painted. It’s not printed,” he said. “It’s a special dye technique. Each garment is treated by hand, one by one.”
Mauleon coordinates the color palette on the graphic prints and the abstract designs so they can hang together in the store. The launch collection includes a wide range of colors, designs and dye techniques, which Mauleon believes will appeal to customers across the U.S.
“I will always have something for you,” he said.
Wholesale prices range from $29 for the graphic prints to $34 for the cotton-slub styles and up to $39 for the rayon/spandex styles. The collection includes sizes up to 2X.
Fred Postal, who is representing Raffi in his Fred Postal & Associates showroom at the California Market Center in Los Angeles, said most buyers will get the first look at the collection at the WWIN show, where Mauleon will also be on hand to present the collection to retailers.
Mauleon said he likes working closely with buyers to develop product with their input.
“This came about because of the relationships I have with past customers,” he said. “They would always ask for something that has a taste of me. I give customers the opportunity to help design the line. They give me their inspiration. That is how I interact with the customer.”