By  on January 24, 2014

NEW YORK — LeSportsac is turning 40 with a new look.

Founded in 1974, the brand is kicking off its 40th anniversary year with a refreshed branding concept and a series of product launches. The initiative kicked off with the unveiling of a new retail design last November at the Tokyo flagship. The new format is currently being rolled out Stateside at the Madison Avenue location here, which is set to reopen Feb. 18.

“Experience was a key word in developing this new retail concept. We wanted an environment to come shop in — not just a store,” said D’Arcy Jensen, vice president and global creative director.

The company enlisted the help of Kramer Design Group to develop the colorful concept.

“We’re 24/7 prints, and stripes and dots have always been a part of our heritage,” said Jensen. “We wanted a fun twist on that with a colorful feel. It’s naturally part of our vocabulary, and we wanted to call it out.”

Yet when it came time to select one color to represent the brand, Jensen found herself facing an impossible decision.

“I really couldn’t commit to one color,” Jensen said. “So we came to this idea of, ‘Why not adopt the rainbow?’”

Enter “LeStripe,” a bright graphic with hues ranging from pastel to neon, as well as black and white. The print anchors the new look for the brand, showing up everywhere from store walls to shopping bags. The interior design pairs the LeStripe print with white and black accents, boudoir-inspired furniture, plantlike chandeliers and a sky blue ceiling. A green box hedge-accented wall ties in the brand’s original signature grasslike color.

In addition to a new look, LeSportsac has limited-edition collaborations due out for spring with Benefit Cosmetics and artist Curtis Kulig.

The partnership with Benefit is a continuation of what Jensen describes as “a series of unexpected partnerships with like-spirited brands.” Previous collaborators have included Disney and Dylan’s Candy Bar.

The collection, which will hit stores in early February, features colorful floral prints in a variety of designs, ranging from a mini cosmetic case to an oversize overnighter. Prices start at $20 and run to $116.

LeSportsac’s collaboration with Kulig, best known for his “Love Me” designs, will also be available beginning in February. The partnership with an artist signifies a return to the brand’s roots.

“We have historically partnered with artists.” Jensen said. “That’s always been an important aspect of the brand’s history, and I think it’s an important part of the brand’s future. We’re fashion in our own way, but what it really boils down to is pop culture.”

Kulig’s designs are part of LeSportsac’s “artist series.” Unlike the collaboration with Benefit, which modifies the bags in terms of trims, hardware and other details, the artists’ series infuses Kulig’s artwork with classic LeSportsac bags, making the bag itself the canvas for his design.

Prices for the artists’ series skew slightly higher, with the opening price at $28 for a cosmetics pouch and capping at $188 for a backpack style.

LeSportsac will continue both collaborations for summer, with new designs rolling out in May.

Also out for spring is a capsule collection inspired by the original collection. Styles range from a small cosmetic case to a large weekender bag, with slight modern tweaks such as extra pockets and adjustable straps. Color options include classic red and navy, as well as two polka dot offerings. In honor of the 40th anniversary, the brand also crafted “LePatch” — a patchwork print comprised of swatches featuring more than 190 different designs from LeSportsac’s archive.

“This print really speaks to the brand, because it’s also what people love about us — this variety,” said Jensen. “People can hunt and find their favorite print. There’s a sense of discovery in there.”

In addition to drawing in new customers, Jensen hopes the brand’s new look will resonate with LeSportsac devotees just as much.

“It’s really [about] inspiring the customer to come back to us and look at us in a new way,” she said. “We have a little something for everyone, but we’re not sure everyone realizes that.…My hope is to be the go-to brand for fun and functional lifestyle needs.”

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