Known for his sexy silhouettes, the Brazilian contemporary womenswear designer Valdemar Iodice founded his namesake brand in 1987. Cut, sewn and finished in Brazil, Iodice is currently available at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and in almost 100 specialty stores across the US. The brand is also sold across Europe and in Japan. With their second runway show at New York Fashion Week less than a month away, Valdemar and his son Adriano spoke to Tim Yap recently about their growing business, in particular prêt-à-porter, stateside.

What did you start out as?
V: The company started with the jersey line for women in 1987. In the 1990s we introduced a jeanswear line into the company. In 1993 the fashion show movement began in São Paulo, so we introduced the prêt-à-porter line. Then in 2000 we opened a huge store, which is our flagship in São Paulo. It’s a three-floor store; it’s very nice. There, we introduced eveningwear.

How many collections do you produce a year?
V: We do five. We do spring, fall, summer, high summer, winter.

What are your strongest segments?
V: Prêt-à-porter is the strongest one. The line was shown at New York fashion week.

In terms of your distribution in Brazil, where are you distributed?
A: We have 500 clients in Brazil, seven franchises and two own-brand stores in São Paulo.

What is your expected turnover for 2008?
V: 20-23 million USD.

How long has the jersey line been in the States?
V: Almost three years.

What are your plans for the prêt-à-porter line?
A: As you know, in our point of view, it’s hard for you to get in the States with a prêt-à-porter line because it’s more pricey if you don’t have the brand recognition. You sell to few stores and in the end the sell-through is not good because you don’t have brand awareness. So our strategy is really good, because we were already in the market. We had been doing business with the jersey line, which is the collection. Now in bringing the prêt-à-porter line, it’s a new approach to our clients because they have the opportunity to buy our jersey line and they trust us because they know the quality and we deliver. So now we’re bringing it to the next level with the prêt-à-porter.

Tell me about your own design.
V: I design for a jet-set socalite woman who has the most beautiful body in the world. It’s a combination of two things: she has to be a jet-set socialite woman and she has to be body-conscious. The clothes are very sexy and very body-conscious.

The jeanswear division. What portion of the business is that?
V: It goes from 30-35% in Brazil.

Is it in the US?
A: Three years from now, but not now. Because we don’t want to take the risk of bringing it in and not do business. We want to consolidate the brand, really build the brand, then we will add denim.

Who do you consider your competitors in the American market?
V: We don’t see a competitor.

In terms of growing the brand, do you have plans to open your own stores?
V: Yes. We have plans to open a store. It’s going to be by the time we do four fashion shows (September 2009). Definitely in New York, but we don’t know where. Meatpacking, SoHo, NoHo, Madison—we are checking for the best location. New York is our new home now. We chose New York to expand because if you succeed here you make it on the whole planet.