In the fashion watch business since 2000, Xtreme Time merged with NES Group in 2008 and has seen growth thanks to licensing, strong design and a budding young men’s business in addition to the fast fashion of the juniors and ladies categories. The new Jonathan Ct. brand evolved out of a void in the young men’s contemporary watch market for accessible, understated design that is still capable of making a bold statement.
Accessories caught up with Ralph Hanan, who has been with NES Group since 2008 as a VP and part-owner of Xtreme Time Inc, NES Group’s watch division.
What distinguishes Jonathan Ct. from what is currently offered in the arena?
Our attention to modern details as accents on traditional styling, creating a truly bespoke presentation while still having fun with it. We call it a tailored fashion watch for the modern gentleman.
I wear many hats at NES/XT so every day is different, which I welcome. Most days have a mix of the typical stuff like sales appointments, report reviews, etc. but I also get to enjoy the creative process of merchandising and seeking out new trends with the design team, looking at different licensing and branding opportunities, and working with a great and talented team of associates without whom I wouldn’t be able to do anything. We really have a great family environment with a lot of young energy so there is a lot of laughter around which is just a great positive environment that feeds everyone. I also travel quite frequently both domestic and abroad which definitely keeps things interesting.
What is your favorite part of this industry?
I always get excited about coming up with an idea for something and seeing it become a reality. So when a new brand or item hits the retail floor that I had a hand in creating, it is very satisfying.
What have been some of the biggest challenges in the market lately?
Retailers are struggling to stay in business and remain relevant, and our competition is well beyond the borders of the accessories industry today. Whether we admit it or not we are competing with every new gadget on the market for retail and consumer dollars as well as social media for consumer’s attention which has also gotten smaller. So these challenges force you to up your game and reinvent yourself more often than I think we have had to in the past and continue seek out creative new opportunities within retail.
What are the newest and exciting changes in the marketplace lately?
No question about it, the forum for direct-to-consumer sales online is the biggest change sweeping the consumer goods industry as a whole. This is just the beginning of brands making more and more direct connections with the ultimate consumer, and engaging them in ways they never have been able to before.
We are planning on using social media more and more in terms of PR and marketing for the Jonathan Ct. brand than we ever have before with a licensed brand or for our private label business. For those businesses there are gatekeepers getting those messages out (the licensor, the retailer) but with this brand it needs to speak to consumers directly and more frequently so that is a big part of our brand building strategy.
Does your company have any important milestones coming up?
We treat every year as the most important one ever. I think I speak for all of the executives and associates both at Xtreme Time and NES when I say we are truly blessed with the opportunities we have been given and just appreciate the chance to keep exploring. We have received several awards from retailers recognizing our service and that’s always a proud moment. We work so hard to be strong partners on both the front and back end, so an award is a great way to show all members of our team from sales to the warehouse that their hard work has been recognized. We are such a young company that even with the great success we have enjoyed so far we don’t tend to look at milestones as being reached yet, we are always looking ahead to the future.
Are you launching anything new for Fall/Holiday 2014?
In addition to the exciting Jonathan Ct. collection previously mentioned, we have signed a deal with EVERLAST to produce a collection of wearable fitness trackers which is launching at retail this fall with what I call the “triple threat” strategy: Top Shelf Branded Product, Incredible Retail Price Point, and Strong Gross Margins for the retailer.
In terms of styling, what are you focusing on for the Fall/Holiday season?
In the ladies category we like to zero in on a few trends that tend to drive the business each season. This Fall/Holiday it is looking like black and white, gold and rose gold, and experimenting with different textures for both ladies and men. We also continue to see success with our “Arm Candy” Watch and jewelry sets, also for ladies and men.
Because of the breadth of our brands and collections we are really influenced by a wide variety of sources so to name one particular designer would be an understatement. We spend a lot of time looking at what people are wearing on the streets of NY, Paris, Tokyo and London just as much as we do the runway. Does the B train count as a designer? Because you can learn a lot just by keeping your eyes open on a NYC subway….
Are there any celebrities, bloggers, movies, TV, music festivals, etc., that are driving trends for you lately?
I follow a lot of bloggers and I am somewhat of an audiophile so I definitely am very in tune with the fashion that emerges from music culture, both in modern music and in the classics. No doubt that the Coachella festival has influenced a lot of the Boho-Chic looks we put together this past Spring. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of late 70s NYC punk so we’ll see how that manifests itself in our 2015 collections, if you see a watch that looks like it came off a tour with the New York Dolls then you’ll know where it came from!
Anything else you would like to add?
To the retailers who have supported us up until now I just want to thank you for that, and for those who haven’t, what are you waiting for??
Xtreme Time was featured in Accessories magazine’s June issue: A look at who and what is hot now–in product, brands, stores, pop culture, business, social media, e-commerce, apps, runway trends, technology, start-ups, museum exhibits and much, much more!
To read this page, click here.