By  on December 14, 2010

Poised, stylish and approachable, Alexandra Dillard looks to be just the type of customer who will take to Cremieux’s new women’s collection.

As brand manager, Dillard, whose father, Alex, is president of the company, is championing this collection, which she described as having “a modern fit and is a little more dressy than casual,” and should compete with labels such as Michael Kors and Kenneth Cole.

While the exclusive Daniel Cremieux label has been a men’s wear top performer in the Dillard’s stable for 10 years, this spring will mark the debut of the women’s Cremieux line.

Going forward, the men’s line is being marketed as Cremieux to keep everything in sync. To get shoppers excited about next month’s launch, there will be outdoor advertising, colorful in-store signage, online ads, catalogue placement and e-mail blasts. The fact that many Dillard’s shoppers are familiar with the name, which is also used for home items, should help generate interest, she said. “We are trying to trade off the base of Cremieux customers who are familiar with the label, know that it offers fashion and comfort and that it is exclusive with Dillard’s,” said Dillard, adding that luggage will be introduced this spring.

Slightly preppy with a Parisian twist, Cremieux’s women’s collection is designed by Stefan Cremieux and his Paris-based design team, who work closely with his father, Daniel. That team also handles the men’s offerings. During a preview of the collection last week in New York, Dillard gestured toward various details, such as a sundress with grommets at the neckline and a striped sweater dress with sequins on the cuffs. “We’re not going after basic customers with this,” she said. Blazers should be “very important,” but she envisions them being worn with skinny jeans and heels, as opposed to suits.

Dillard’s tapped Tahari by ASL to manufacture and source the line, and creative director Jen Globus plays an integral role in the process. Martin Miller, who first discovered Daniel Cremieux 15 years ago by dropping into his Saint-Tropez boutique, is a partner in the Cremieux and Dillard’s project.

The aim for Cremieux’s sweaters, skirts, pants, dresses and jackets is to try to offer retail prices of $100 or less, though some items are slightly more, such as special dresses that can run up to $158. Dillard declined to comment on projected wholesale volume.

The retailer is taking measured steps with the women’s line. Shirtdresses, blazers, sundresses and other items will be initially offered in 150 stores and online, compared with the men’s collection, which is available in more than 330 stores and online. But Dillard’s isn’t only banking on big-city stores to respond to the women’s offerings. Dillard noted that stores in Little Rock and Jonesboro, Ark., and Ocala, Fla., are some of the company’s best locations.

She would know. Based in Tampa, Fla., she spends much of her time on the road visiting stores. Managing four of five labels for the family business calls for travel to New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and the occasional European city. In terms of expansion, for the time being, Dillard’s is focused on continuing to bolster business in its Southern stores and the Texas area, she said.

The retailer reported an 8 percent gain for same-store sales in November. Instead of price cutting, the chain has fared well during the economic downturn by having stores that are “easy to shop, with good quality items that are not overly priced,” Dillard said. “We believe in growing customers on a daily basis. We’re not looking to constantly promote. That’s definitely our mantra right now.”

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