Great China Wall Launches Bridge Line

Friday, April 27, 2007

Alfredo Settimio carries the highly focused air of a perfectionist craftsman. Every detail on his Great China Wall vintage-inspired fashion label, from Swarovski crystals to Chinese lettering, must be flawless.

The meticulous detail helped cultivate a following for his high-end collection. For his next step, Settimio is launching a new line, with a new price point and a new distribution channel.

Since 2000, Great China Wall has been a top-performing label at high-profile boutiques such as Theodore, Kitson and H. Lorenzo because Settimio’s label seems to look at vintage clothing through new eyes.

He found garments such as Vietnam-era military fatigues and leather jackets from the 1950s and made them look unique with expensive details including leather appliqueacute;s and handpainted graphics featuring tigers and 1940s-era airplanes. The details helped justify retail price points from $500 for hooded sweaters to $3,000 for jackets.

The business of his label grew from $1 million in sales in 2000 to $7 million in 2006 through its sales to 160 boutiques in the world. But Settimio plans for the scope of his business to expand with China Wall Ink, which debuted in January.

Instead of contenting himself with the boutique business of Great China Wall, the new line will focus on department stores.

Settimio’s has already shipped China Wall Ink to high-end department stores including select Nordstroms. It will be retailed at more-popular price points ranging from $90 for a tank top to $250 for a sweater.

Instead of using Great China Wall’s graphics, which seem to be inspired by the international pop-culture world of the 1940s and 1950s, Ink’s graphics look to the surreal world of the future. Think art-inspired toys, New York–based Kid Robot’s machines and rabbits, and present-day camouflage.

The label is called Ink because it does not use the luxury details that keep Great China Wall’s prices high. Instead, Ink uses materials such as airbrush paint and ink for its graphics, which range from baby angels armed with spray-paint cans to graffiti art. Settimio manufactures the garments in Los Angeles.

While Ink is meant for department stores, boutique owners such as Kitson owner Fraser Ross said they jumped at the chance to sell the line. Ross has been selling Great China Wall since 2000, and it sells so well that he has devoted 300 square feet—a side wall of Kitson—to stocking it. “Everyone copies what Alfredo does. He was one of the first to make cargo pants embroidered with skulls. He makes cutting-edge clothes,” Ross said.

Settimio made no forecast as to how much Ink should earn in its first year. In June he will start selling the line in Europe at the Bread & Butter trade show in Barcelona. For more information, contact Joseacute; Naderi at (310) 880-3289 or —Andrew Asch