While designers flood the saturated albeit profitable women’s clothing market, Oved Apparel is proving that there is great success to be had in the menswear market. In 1981, brothers Isaac, David, Ronnie and Mike Oved created an original line of four men’s shirts. The enterprising group went door to door to specialty stores in the New York City area.
David Oved says in the beginning it was a hand-to-mouth business, but as Oved Apparel began to gain traction, it developed new in-house brands and became a licensee for existing brands. Eight years ago it brought children’s wear into the portfolio with the help of kidswear expert Albert Pardo. Two years ago they took on the license for Ecko Cut & Sew and RocaWear and started a big and tall division. Now, 32 years later, the brothers run a successful men’s, children’s and big and tall apparel company representing 14 lines with a 50/50 split between in-house brands and licensed brands.
“We have our in-house brands but we also license for well-known brands such as Lee Kids, Hudson Kids, Izod denim, NBA Zipway and Vigoss Girls,” CEO and Director of Business Development David Oved says. “I’m constantly looking for different opportunities. That’s a big part of my job, is looking to the future of the company and new opportunities.”
Over its lifetime, Oved Apparel has found its fair share of opportunities. The company has more than 2,000 accounts ranging from specialty boutique stores and high-end department stores such as Bloomingdales, Nordstrom’s and Neiman Marcus, to mid-market department stores like J.C. Penny, Sears and Kohl’s. The style of clothing varies, as well. Jeans are one of the company’s strong suits as it manufactures more than five million pairs a year. It’s also a big player in the street wear market with brands such as Parish, Akademiks and Enyce. Right now, Oved says the company is beginning to gain more ground in the high-end market, as well.
“I like the upscale market, and we’ve been selling to more high-end stores with some of our brands and it seems to be working for us,” Oved says. “The luxury market is up-and-coming for us and brands such as Hudson Kids has really helped gain traction in that area. Prps is another super premium brand that has a large celebrity following.”
Prps, pronounced “purpose,” was developed by in-house designer and partner Donwan Harrell who set out on a mission to create the world’s best jean. The innovative brothers backed the ambitious designer and in 2002 Prps was formed. Garments are created with hand-selected cotton from Zimbabwe, which is then shipped to small-scale expert craftsmen in rural Japan where generational artisans weave small batches of Prps selvedge denim on vintage American looms. This traditional, small-scale process is slow and deliberate, which Oved Apparel says is exactly the way top-quality denim needs to be made.
“Once you put on a pair of those jeans, you never want to take them off,” Oved says. “Our consumers keep coming back for more and more because the jeans get better with age. As the jeans get older and more worn in, they become more comfortable.”
The process has resonated with the public, with celebrities such as Brad Pitt, David Beckham, Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, Jay Z and Javier Bardem all fans of the line. Following the success of its jeans, the line has now expanded into a full line of menswear, including jackets, pants, shirts, tees and sweaters.
“We just launched a brand new Prps website where we are selling the product direct to the consumer for the first time. In 2014 we plan to open the Prps Flagship Store in New York City,” Oved says. He says the next step is to delve deeper into international sales. The company continues its international business, with a focus on Great Britain, Germany and Italy and is looking to expand to Asia where there is exponential growth potential for Prps.
Oved Apparel, as a whole, is a half-billion-dollar company today, but Oved says the company still has the spirit of an enterprising upstart.
“We know the men’s and kid’s markets very well, and that is our strong point so that’s where we see most of our growth and future,” Oved says. “Our plan is to stick to what we do best. But life always comes up with new challenges and opportunities, and I am not one to shy away from challenges.”