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Toccin Has Its Moment, at Saks, Neiman’s, Hudson’s Bay and Bloomingdale’s

For a modern, advanced contemporary brand, Toccin is taking a very traditional pursuit toward growth.

In May, the company is opening a showroom in the heart of the Garment District, where there’s been a shrinking presence of fashion brands. Distribution is more than doubling this year largely through wholesaling to conventional department store chains, and the Toccin collection has been on the road staging trunk shows at hotels, luncheons, specialty stores and charity events.

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Some might consider Toccin’s growth strategy somewhat “old school,” though it also includes elevating the brand’s presence on the websites of retailers, expanding the stock keeping unit count, and casting the collection as a new wardrobing concept, rather than a plethora of items.

Over breakfast at Manhattan’s Regency Hotel last week, husband and wife Michael and Alex Toccin, the cofounders and co-owners of Toccin Apparel Holdings LLC, were eager to discuss the upcoming widening distribution of their eponymous, five-year-old collection, and what makes their brand distinct.

Relying heavily on long-standing department stores, a sector that’s been stagnant for decades, is something Michael Toccin is comfortable with. It’s a case of “what’s old can be new.” He keeps close to the retailers, frequently walking the selling floors and encouraging the buyers and merchandisers to present the Toccin collection in a manner that expresses it the way he thinks it should be.

The Toccins detailed how the collection will widen its distribution, saying it entails:

  • Bloomingdale’s in May starting to carry Toccin for the first time with the summer collection, at the 59th Street flagship in Manhattan, two other doors and online.

  • Toccin doubling its distribution at Saks Fifth Avenue this fall, from eight to 16 doors and selling on Saks.com.

  • BergdorfGoodman.com carrying Toccin for the first time beginning this fall.

  • Neiman Marcus, which previously carried the collection, relaunching it at five doors and online for fall.

  • Canada’s Hudson’s Bay selling the collection for the first time this fall at 14 locations.

Michael and Alex Toccin
Michael and Alex Toccin

Compared to Saks, Neiman’s and Bloomingdale’s, Hudson’s Bay has more of a mass appeal. But Michael Toccin said Hudson’s Bay is still a good fit for Toccin. “We like to be approachable, and we do have our own opening price point. We want women to feel special, put together, comfortable and confident. That’s not about just charging a crazy price for a dress. We want to be accessible.” Toccin’s price spectrum ranges from $115 for a white T-shirt to $1,500 for a shearling coat. The average price point is about $500.

“At Hudson’s Bay we will be in 14 of their top 20 locations,” said Toccin. Hudson’s Bay, in a few of its locations, does have “The Room” which sells true designer price points, such as Oscar de la Renta and Balmain. “We’re going to be right outside The Room in the Toronto location,” in an area shared with Max Mara, Eileen Fisher, and Ralph Lauren, among other brands, observed Toccin.

Department stores have a reputation for not displaying brands properly, sometimes burying the best pieces amid the racks. Asked about that, Toccin replied: “Presentation is everything to me. It’s all how you set the stage. We are going to be delivering to all of our stores an ‘accordion’ of how I want things paginated on the racks. Organization is so important because we want to teach the consumer how to style their wardrobe. We merchandise by look.

“It’s also about your relationship with the stores and whether the stores realize what your brand stands for,” Toccin added. “We can showcase what our brand stands for. With our retailers, we’re always asking what their needs are, in terms of what the customer is reacting to. We show them what we’re doing. And they might say, ‘Can we get a miniskirt in that style instead of just a midi skirt?’ We like to have our people around our partners as part of the process. We also make sure we’re always listening to the voice of our customer. So we design into the missing categories or voids.” Toccin is also carried at Rent the Runway and several specialty stores.

A classic Toccin style from the fall 2024 collection.
A classic Toccin style from the fall 2024 collection.

The Toccins expect to double the volume of the business (which is small) this year and again in 2025. “We’ll be cash-flow positive in 2024. We will be profitable,” Michael Toccin said. The company is entirely self-funded, he said, though the couple would consider outside investment which would further the potential for growth. The collection currently has more than 200 skus, which is about 60 percent more from a year ago, they said.

“I think what sets us really apart from other brands out there — and I’ve been walking a lot of selling floors in the past couple of weeks — is that it’s not just about coming to us for a dress or an outerwear piece. You’re coming to us for everyday wardrobing. We create clothes that make women feel put together,” said Toccin.

Toccin showed for the first time at the Coterie trade show at the Jacob K. Javits Center last February. “Normally I feel that the buyers at the Coterie really cherrypick your collection. But with us, they got it, that we’re a wardrobing company,” said Michael Toccin. Alex Toccin emphasized the design aspect of it. “If you are wearing one of our blazers and layering one of our coats on top of it, you don’t feel so confined,” she said.

Toccin’s three-piece suits, outerwear (particularly Toccin’s oversized Brandy coat), the Remi wrap blouse paired with the Arielle wide-leg pant, the “strong shoulder” slipdresses, and crew neck sweaters have been recent bestsellers.

Last November, Toccin launched its “Core” grouping of classic wardrobing pieces and most popular styles, including the signature tie-front knitwear, blazers, shirtdresses, cardigans, T-shirts, slacks and belts. Seasonless fabrics and mixing and matching pieces are a big part of it. “We’re continuing with that program, making sure all the stores pick up the fall styles,” said Alex Toccin.

Asked why this year is the time to step on the accelerator, Michael Toccin said, “We’re about to hit our five-year anniversary. We went through the pandemic. We’ve identified what our core is and the key sellers.”

A month ago Toccin started staging trunk shows around the U.S., working with a new hire with the title VIP sales director. Among the several trunk shows staged already was one at the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., during a charity luncheon for Women of Tomorrow. “We did an informal runway, with four models, teaching customers about our line and how to mix and match combinations within the collection.” There was also an hour-long Toccin pop-up. “We sold over $20,000,” said Michael Toccin. “Then we partnered with Five Story in Palm Beach and continued to sell there for two days.” On May 9, Toccin will be the featured brand on the runway for the Success Under the Stars luncheon in Miami, followed by a trunk show.

“What makes Alex and I unique is our followers from our Instagram. We’re joining them around the country,” via trunk shows. The couple started in business together with a blog in 2016 called “Stylists to a T.” Unlike other bloggers who charge brands for posting a story, a picture and a link, the Toccins started it with a subscription format and the response from followers of the blog motivated them to start their own brand. Earlier in his career, Michael Toccin interned at Giorgio Armani, Tod’s, Oscar de la Renta, and KaufmanFranco, where he later got a job and was encouraged to attend Parsons School of Design. Returning to KaufmanFranco, he became vice president of domestic and international sales, oversaw celebrity styling and created a private client program. He was there for 10 years, and said that he loved his work getting stores to buy the collection, or as he said, “the chase.”

Alex Toccin also attended Parsons, studying marketing while interning at Ralph Lauren, where she ended up getting a job in the merchandising department. She also worked as a buyer at Theory, in public relations at the HL Group, and at Emily and Ashley fine jewelry, in sales.

There’s no plan for a Toccin store yet, not even a long-term pop up, though Michael Toccin hinted at the possibility one day. “Toccin’s dream is to be on Madison Avenue one day,” he said. For what’s still a small brand, he’s thinking big.

From Toccin's fall 2024 collection.
From Toccin’s fall 2024 collection.

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