by Karen Alberg Grossman
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One of the best collections I’ve seen lately is not from an expensive high-end designer, but from Ciel Textile, a vertical, private label garment manufacturer part of the Creare Group. With factories in Mauritius and Madagascar, the company’s duty-free to the U.S., Canada and EU status means incredible prices on some very exceptional goods. Key categories are sportshirts, dress shirts (fabulous non-iron cottons), knits and sweaters. Key accounts include J. Crew, Zara, Bonobos, Banana Republic, Tailored Brands, SuitSupply, Brooks Brothers, Thomas Dean, Levi’s, Dillards and Hart Schaffner Marx.

Ciel’s head designer Francois Lacondemine showed me some fall ’17 sample shirts. My favorite trends: the textured white shirts and white-on-white jacquards, soft indigo looks, garment-dyed and washed fine wale corduroys, mini-florals on subtle herringbone grounds, yarn-dyed oxfords, lots of blues, and a surprising amount of dusty pastels, raw detailing, and banded collars.

Confides Lacondemine: “Despite the tenuous state of retail business, the group is growing in leaps and bounds in North America, primarily due to our successful design and development mentality, and aggressive pricing.”

Notes Kevin Lynk, Creare USA founder and CEO, “Our success has always been the strength of our collections; we’re known for our R&D and sophisticated washes and finishes. We’re a little dot in the Indian Ocean but our talented design team travels the globe, analyzing product in virtually every store. For fall ‘17, they developed a collection of 1,000 garments, all of which are right on point.”

I wholeheartedly agree.