By  on January 23, 2008

RYKA & KELLY: After gracing January's cover of Fitness, Kelly Ripa is venturing into activewear design. The sprightly TV personality just signed a three-year contract with Ryka, an active brand owned by American Sporting Goods, to codesign an apparel and footwear collection launching for fall. The working title for the line is the Kelly Ripa Collection for Ryka, and the price range and distribution are still to be determined. She'll also serve as the brand's official spokeswoman. Ripa, a runner and Physique 57 [club and class] devotee who received Ryka shoes and running shorts from the company after discussing her fitness routine on the air, said she will be "as involved as humanly possible" in the design process. "I don't want to just slap my name on something," she said, adding she likely will wear her line in any fitness segment on "Regis & Kelly." "I'm also a human guinea pig for the product line. I actually wear it and decide what works, what fits well and what doesn't." The company said it chose Ripa — who will be appearing in print ad campaigns, online programs and in-store point of purchase packages — because of her commitment to an active lifestyle.

PRANA BUSY ON REVIEW: Prana may be on review by Liz Claiborne Inc., but the activewear brand is still aggressively expanding its business. Following the winter 2007 men's launch of Scapegoat, its premium outerwear line, Prana is adding a women's collection for fall. Wholesaling from $225 to $325, the line will be sold in specialty outdoor stores and boutiques. Door counts and volume estimates are still in the works. Since Prana was put up for sale by the $4.99 billion Claiborne in July, it has opened its first freestanding retail doors and launched Scapegoat. The company is one of only four brands left waiting to hear its future, and analysts speculate that when the niche active brand's fate is decided in the next two months, it will either go for a high price or be kept and expanded by Claiborne.

It's been almost a year since Iconix bought Danskin, and the branding company is pumping "seven figures" into repositioning the dance brand with an ad campaign that breaks this week. It's the first ad campaign for Danskin under the Iconix umbrella, and features Matthew McConaughey's girlfriend, model Camila Alves, whose pregnancy was just announced. "With the ads, we are trying to encourage people to take a different look at Danskin — it's fashion and performance," said Dari Marder, chief merchandising officer of Iconix. "It has such a great history in dance, but also great fashion heritage." With the tag line "everything you remember and more," the ads will appear in March issues of magazines from Self to In Style to Hamptons, said Marder.NHL ENLISTS MILANO TO TOUCH FANS: The National Hockey League has partnered with actress Alyssa Milano and G-III Apparel Group for an NHL version of the Touch by Alyssa Milano clothing line. This is the latest extension on Milano's licensed brand, which was introduced last year with Major League Baseball and also added National Football League, National Basketball Association and the Collegiate Licensing Co. this year. Launching in February, the misses' collection, targeting the female fan, includes outerwear, tops, denim and dresses. Wholesaling for $25 to $50, the line will be available at,, NHL arena team stores and select retailers in the U.S. and Canada. To promote her collection, Milano will attend the 2008 NHL All-Star Weekend celebration in Atlanta this weekend.

BLACK FLEECE OR BLACK SHEEP?: Thom Browne's avant-garde Black Fleece collection may be feeling like a bit of a black sheep at preppy Brooks Brothers, where sources said the debut collection may not be receiving the welcome from customers the retailer had expected. After Browne's four-season deal ends, Brooks Bros. may rotate the higher-end label to another guest designer, sources said. But Lou Amendola, Brooks Bros. chief merchandising officer, who has run the niche program, said in a statement, "Overall, we are very happy with the results with the Black Fleece project and our relationship with Thom Browne. The project has been very successful for us on many levels. We are only halfway into Thom's contract and about to deliver the second collection, and it would be entirely premature to speculate what will come next. We will obviously be discussing this in the coming months and look forward to seeing how the project evolves."

Resort brand Inca has opened its first store at 976 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. The 700-square-foot space sells chic resort essentials, like embroidered and embellished swimwear, bohemian caftans, luxe pillows, towels and beach bags, from $100 for a towel to $400 for the most expensive caftan. Stephanie Hirsch started the brand 10 years ago, and Stacy Josloff partnered with her in 2004 to launch "The Upper East Side seemed to be the ideal place to dip our toes in the water with our first boutique — the women in this zip code are always jetting off to fabulous locales," Josloff said. The store offers a made-to-measure program where runway looks can be customized to ensure a perfect fit. Next, Inca plans to open its second store in Miami in March.

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