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Convict

An obsession with quality is the driving force behind this short-order men’s young fashion brand.

Former Bench chief executive Kelvin Vidler is back after a three-year hiatus from young fashion and has teamed up with four business partners to launch the Convict brand.

Vidler, ex-policeman Tony Guraya, Saeed Izadifar, who owns indie Tissotti in Knutsford, Cheshire, ex-Premiership footballer Nathan Blake and fashion supplier Kam Ahluwalia have funded a bullish entry back into young fashion with a brand they believe will inspire and entice retailers.

Vidler left Bench in 2007 after leading its £196m sale to private equity firm Americana, and tells Drapers he has been chomping at the bit to return to young fashion ever since, and that the economic downturn has done nothing to quell his passion for the industry.

“Whether we are out of the recession, in the recession or going back into a recession the market needs something that will be lively and make a statement, and that is great quality - I’ve always been obsessed with quality,” he says.

Convict is aimed at the commercial end of young fashion, sitting alongside the likes of Henleys and Superdry, with wholesale prices for T-shirts starting at £10, sweats from £17 and outerwear and jeans starting at £25 and £22 respectively.

The collection debuted with a men’s range for autumn 10 and Vidler has ambitions to launch a women’s offer but is held back by market challenges. “The high street is doing a very good job on womenswear and we all know the men’s market better, which is also a bit more brand loyal,”he says.

Key to the brand’s appeal, according to Vidler, will be its fast-fashion ethos, with all garments made in Turkey. Convict can get an item from design to shopfloor in just four weeks.

The collection will be inspired by US West Coast hip-hop via the use of bright colour, graphic prints and embellishment. “The collection will be jersey and fleece-led depending on the season and we’ll have quick response,” says Vidler.

There will be two main 40-piece Convict collections a year - spring and autumn - and at least three injection ranges of 12 pieces per season. The brand offers six denim styles, along with hats, bags and accessories. Thirty retailers have bought into the brand for autumn 10.

For Vidler, the ideal distribution model will be a network of 100 indies and he aims to bring one key multiple - either Republic, Bank or USC - on board. A department store “would be nice” and then he will target a mail-order retailer next year. l

Essentials

40 - Number of pieces in the mainline
100 - Target number of independent stockists
£10 - Starting wholesale price

Convict 07785 276332

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