Date06/01/15

ESCADA: Bright & Bold

Date06/01/15

Founded in 1978, ESCADA was established as a knitwear company by Margaretha and Wolfgang Ley in Munich, Germany. Margaretha was of Swedish descent, a former model who had spent her early years working for Sweden’s royal tailor. The Ley’s, who had married in 1974, decided to call the company Escada after they bet on a winning Irish racing horse of the same name. Wolfgang took charge of the financial and administrative part of the company, while Margaretha worked as establishing the company’s design reputation. Escada soon set itself apart from others of the time period by offering clothing with unusual (and bright!) color and pattern combinations, one-of-a-kind embroidery, and elaborately designed knitted fashions.

Margaretha and Wolfgang Ley 1976

Margaretha and Wolfgang Ley 1976 (photo from Escada website)

Escada entered the US market in 1982 went public four years later during its rise in international expansion. For the remaining years of the 1980s, as well as much of the 1990s, the company launched and acquired a number of labels—in 1989 they even acquired 80% of the California-based company St. John’s Knits, and in 1992 New York’s Badgley Mischka. In the 1990s Escada established its sportswear line and its first fragrance. The company also took advantage of some major licensing opportunities, including a collaboration with Proctor & Gamble. Licenses included eyewear, perfumes, ties, scarves, and other products.

Margaretha Ley, co-founder and Chief Designer for Escada, died in 1992 at the age of 56. Her unexpected death, along with the global recession of the 1990s, drastically affected the company. In an effort to bounce back, the company brought in new talent and worked on re-branding and re-structuring in the years that followed. In 2000, an accessory line that included shoes and handbags was unveiled. Ten years later, the fashion house further expanded its brand into the home, with the introduction of its first home collection that included bed and table linens and toweling products. Wolfgang Lay resigned in 2006, naming Damiano Biella as Creative Director. Today, Escada operates 400-something stories worldwide, and has expanded into several spin-off brands at a lower price point, although the original Escada line remains the group’s strongest seller. Their offerings have expanded to include jewelry and watch lines.
Escada has long been synonymous with quality fabrics, exceptional fit, bright colors, comfortable and imaginative designs, and workmanship at affordable prices. Here at Rice and Beans Vintage, we love Escada’s vibrant colors and playful patterns, as well as the penchant for ultra-feminine looks. If one thing is for sure, it’s this: Escada’s bright colors are perfect for summer, and summer is right around the corner!

written by Heather Cox for Rice and Beans Vintage

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