RT Brands, LLC has retained well-respected industry merchant Tom Ott to advise on strategic opportunities for the Robert Talbott brand, acquired in early 2019 by Relevant Brands Holdings. Ott has spent the past 24 years at Saks Fifth Avenue in various merchandising roles including Chief Merchant for Off Fifth and SVP/GMM for Men’s. During his tenure, he led the launch of the store’s private label men’s collection, essentially the same niche that the new Robert Talbott collection can fill, making Ott the perfect choice to steer the relaunch.
According to RT Brands, Robert Talbott is positioned to move to a more sportswear-rich assortment and take advantage of its American heritage and extensive archives. The brand was established in 1950 by Robert and Audrey Talbott in Monterey, California. The collection was born in the furnishings world and was known for its colorful offerings, but the growth opportunity is clearly sportswear. Knit and woven offerings will feature colors and details that drove the collection at the height of its success but with a new emphasis on soft tailored looks, golf, and tennis. Says Ott, “We’re currently seeking investors, partners, and licensees. Distribution will be in select department stores, better independents, online and in a few (five growing to 15) company stores for ideal storytelling.”
Ott points out that with many sportswear companies now focused on contemporary styles while designer lines are hitting unattainable pricepoints, the timing is right for an elevated menswear collection at affordable retails. “For the guy in his 30s who’s just beginning to make some money, an updated classic look that works for both the office and the club is ideal. A 35- to 40-year-old manager can’t expect to build a professional career wearing T-shirts and jeans.
“Today’s customer wants the style and details he sees in great Italian collections, but at a fair price,” Ott maintains. “If you know where to source great product globally, you can deliver both exceptional value & great craftsmanship. This is one of the reasons Talbott is positioned to take back the updated classic space in American stores. There’s not a lot out there beyond Peter Millar and Lacoste. Our look will be less classic, more relaxed California lifestyle. Retails will be $75-$90 on knits, $95-$125 on wovens. We’re also looking at sportscoats (both soft and constructed), footwear (sneakers, drivers, hybrids at $195-$275) and great five-pocket pants.
“What drew my attention to this company,” he continues, “is its untarnished reputation as a true American brand. We’re even considering adding an “American Project” capsule of 100% U.S.-made goods. I’ve worked with many terrific American manufacturers over the years and I’ve always dreamed of this option. I also see a real opportunity in women’s. All told, I believe Robert Talbott is poised for greatness for many years to come.”