Nor’Easter

Rugged Bear children's clothing company in New EnglandRugged Bear made its mark in New England more than 30 years ago, outfitting generations of kids in its upscale clothing. With a boost from Cutie Pie Baby’s president and founder, Eli Yedid, the brand continues on, expanding beyond its northeastern haunts and into specialty and department stores across the country. In April 2011, it was Yedid who snapped up the brand from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy auction, energized to breathe new life into it. “What attracted me to Rugged Bear were all the possibilities. It was a beloved brand with a multigenerational following. They had already conquered the New England market, but seldom used their signature bear icon on their goods and never ventured outside of the region. There was so much that could be done,” he says. Fall ’12 will be a whirlwind for Rugged Bear.  They have secured at least six licensing partnerships in areas from footwear, socks and hosiery to accessories. For its part, Cutie Pie Baby will take on the newborn and infant sizes 0 to 24 months, a category in which the wellknown infant company is very at home. Yedid and his brother Jack built Cutie Pie Baby out of their father’s general import/export wholesaling business into a company specializing in the children’s arena. For 20 years they have been manufacturing layette, snap tees, bibs, blankets and separates that line store shelves everywhere from Babies ‘R’ Us to Nordstrom and in Internet outlets such as Zulily and Macy’s. “For Fall ’12, the infant and toddler collection is collegiate, with appliqué crests and details such as embroidery, top stitching and decorative knee and elbow patches,” says Yedid, noting preppy plaids and yarn-dyed stripes also get top billing. Cutie Pie Baby’s Rugged Bear range includes puffer vests, track suits, body suits, drawstring cargo pants and hoodies. Boys’ sizes newborn to 7 are the primary focus for the brand, although a girls’ line will be included as well. “Rugged Bear’s sportswear and sets will be pieces that parents can count on for quality and fit,” Yedid says, but he adds, “Expect the line to have trendier details, with a modern edge.” Licensing partner iApparel LLC has created the upcoming fall Rugged Bear outerwear collection including puffers, hooded fleece jackets, puffer prams, soft shell jackets and ski jackets and pants. The outerwear comes in a variety of blues, pinks, greens and other classic colors, along with brights and neutrals in solids and patterns. Backpacks, manufactured by FAB Starpoint, will feature embroidered logos, bear zipper pulls, compasses, bungees, mesh and pockets, underscoring the adventurous spirit of the line. “The licensees’ product lines are durable and high quality,” Yedid notes. “They will stick to basic color palettes while offering versatility with a preppy feel.” For footwear, that preppy feel will be articulated in rainboots, sandals, snow and hiking boots by Eastman Group and socks, snow socks and crib shoes in styles ranging from loafers to Mary Janes by Gina Group. To round out the collection, licensee CNY Apparel is producing the line of underwear and pajamas. “We picked companies with great reputations for quality and top-notch design that have extensive experience in the industry and in their particular expertise,” Yedid says. Northeasterners are happy to see the beloved brand continue and grow. Buyers are also delighted to see a fresh boys’ brand that stands apart from the existing offerings in this category. The future for Rugged Bear looks decidedly bright. “Rugged Bear’s volume in their heyday was 40 million a year. We will do more than 50 million in 2012, and by 2013 I project this will be a 100 million-plus brand,” says Yedid. “Also, I plan on re-opening the stores in 2014. The fun is just beginning.”