TORONTO - Alfred Sung's fashion career has spanned more than three decades and his name has been stamped on countless licensed product lines, but the designer is still keen to broaden his homegrown consumer base.
Sung is hoping to achieve that goal through a collaboration with Mark's, expressing excitement about bringing a fresh slate of women's apparel and footwear to the homegrown retailer, which has about 380 stores across the country.
"First of all, they're a very professional, successful operation," the soft-spoken, affable designer said in a recent interview. "And then with the locations, the amount of stores they have, that will give me a lot of exposure to customers that I would normally not have because they're really right across Canada. So, I'm really happy about that."
Sung has previously forayed into the realm of affordable apparel partnerships through a line launched for Zellers in 2009. For the latest collaboration, it was the designer's business partner, Saul Mimran, who initiated the call to Mark's about forging ties, resulting in the retailer's Sung Alfred Sung line.
Mimran said he had sensed Mark's (formerly Mark's Work Wearhouse) may want to consider updating their women's collection giving its existing strength in menswear, and saw the potential for Sung to fill the niche.
"There are so many things that are alike in both the philosophies," said Mimran, president of Mimran Group Inc., the worldwide owner and licensor of the Alfred Sung trademarks, which includes fragrances, eyewear and jewelry.
"For Alfred, it's approachable, it's reasonable, it's practical. These are key words. For Mark's, it's also practical, everyday, the regular person, the regular working woman, working man. And we identify with that."
Sung has achieved success in the formal wear category with his bridal and bridesmaids creations, but said he gets "always gets excited" about everyday wear. The casual, sportswear items in Sung Alfred Sung were designed to be worn standalone or to pair multiple pieces within one ensemble, with the ability to translate from the office to after-hours, he noted.
"It's quite versatile from blouses to a lot of sweaters, knitwear and pants," Sung said, adding that apparel items span from $15 to $100. In an addition the extensive mix of cardigans, trousers, leggings, jackets and outerwear in the range, the line also extends into footwear with both flat and stacked-heel boots.
"When I designed this collection, again, I wanted to make women's lives easier, simpler," Sung said. "For instance, I tried to create those layer pieces with two pieces that are essentially just one piece, like a sweater with a satin-silk combination. So, you look like you're wearing a sweater and shirt, but in reality, it's just one piece.
"We have details like that so basically, when you wake up, rather than thinking: 'I need this blouse to wear with this sweater,' you just throw one thing on and that's it."
Sung said he believes the fast pace of modern-day lifestyles has had an impact on many women as they seek out wardrobe items requiring less maintenance and minimal fuss.
"I think people are more practical, also. They want something that's comfortable," he said. "When you put on the things, I think women want to buy something to make them feel good and look good and is easy to maintain."
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