By  on June 11, 2007

With new, well-seasoned merchants at the helm, the Born footwear brand is ready to launch a men's sportswear collection for spring 2008.

Scott Branscum, chief executive officer and president of SB Premier Brands LLC, and Tim Rogers, vice president of sales, told WWD that the brand would expand its accessories business and at some point enter the women's wear market.

Born for men is being licensed from H.H. Brown.

With the men's wear launch, Branscum is aiming the brand at a 30- to 50-year-old demographic; a man who shops for himself, is brand aware, understands and appreciates great products, and knows what he wants.

"He is an aspirationally young-minded guy," Branscum said, "who wants style that has a point of view."

"He shops at a level where he wants to put it on, and it has to fit right, and then looks in the mirror before deciding that it is right for him," Rogers said.

The men's sportswear collection includes blazers, functional outerwear, shorts, cargo pants, woven shirts and knit shirts, among other items, and features technical fabrics such as exclusively developed charambo, a fabric that is breathable, regulates body temperature and is odor-resistant, as well organic fabrics.

Paul Mainwaring, who worked at Saks Fifth Avenue's private label business as well as at Hartmarx and Urban Outfitters, is designing the line, which is being targeted for distribution to specialty men's wear retailers.

"We have a sales force in place that specializes in men's haberdashery," Branscum said. "This is better men's sportswear for specialty and select department stores where there is a merchandising desire to embrace the Born lifestyle the way we are taking it to market."

Branscum and Rogers for the last 25 years have worked together at several fashion firms and retailers, including Cutter and Buck. Branscum has retail and vendor experience, and prior to his work with Perry Ellis, ran Eddie Bauer's men's wear business for several seasons.

Branscum said he had been eyeing "a hole in the market" for some time, and the Born licensing deal was the perfect brand to fill it. Last year, a men's line was set to be launched under Vista Global Brands. The line was placed in very few retail doors. One industry executive said there was not enough merchandising and market experience behind the launch.Branscum said he worked closely with H.H. Brown to see footwear products in the pipeline so bits of the design elements could be translated into the apparel line.

Branscum said he had discussed rolling out a women's wear line with H.H. Brown, and saw this "as a tremendous opportunity" due to the Born brand's cache in the market.

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