By  on April 21, 2005

CHICAGO — Speedo launched its Axcelerate sportswear line with help from Olympic gold medalist Amanda Beard at the Marshall Field’s flagship here last week.

“We’re taking Speedo from the water to the land with this innovative, fashion-forward collection,” said Sheree Waterson, president of Speedo North America, a division of Warnaco Swimwear Inc.

A ponytailed Beard, wearing an Axcelerate black nylon and Lycra spandex hoodie, matching pants and light blue tank top, greeted the crowd of more than 200 people and signed autographs.

“You can walk out of the gym and wear it and look cute,” Beard said of the collection. “A young mother could throw it on and run her errands. I can sweat and get it dirty and it still looks good.”

Speedo sees the line, which retails from $34 for bra tops to $70 for jackets, as appealing to more than athletes. A $3 million ad campaign accompanies the launch.

“It’s about performance intersecting with lifestyle,” said Doris Miller, vice president of sales for Speedo Apparel. For example, Axcelerate’s fall collection includes a double-knit jacket with detachable fake-fur collar and cuffs.

Field’s State Street store provided a good launchpad, in part because it showcases swimwear and activewear on the same floor, Speedo executives said. Field’s is launching Axcelerate in 15 locations. The line also will be available at 25 Lady Foot Locker stores in May and other stores, said Miller.

“We’ve promised to bring people things that are fresh, exciting and fun,” said Ralph Hughes, Field’s regional director. “This has all of those features.”

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