By  on January 18, 1994

NEW YORK -- With competition heating up in the television shopping arena, networks are beating a path to designer showrooms, hoping to pluck some stars from the fashion firmament.

Joining QVC and Home Shopping Network this year will be TV Macy's, Q2, and Spiegel's The Catalog Channel. All are vying for marquee names.

But well-known designers who missed the first parade to the tube are not particularly eager to put their apparel on television if it is to be sold alongside polyester pantsuits and gaudy rings.

Although they are clearly intrigued with the idea of home shopping, they've concluded that it's still in its infancy and have decided to sit this round out and let others worry about working out the kinks.

Here's what some of them are saying:

  • While designers don't doubt that home shopping will become a retail force in the next decade, they wonder if the current options -- QVC and Home Shopping Network -- can market clothing with a strong fashion edge.

  • For many designers, television is incongruous with the aura of exclusivity they've tried to cultivate.

  • QVC and HSN combined reach over 100 million homes. But many designers say they shudder to think of millions of housewives wearing the same outfit.

  • Designers wonder if their apparel will appeal to typical home shopping customers, who tend to wear slightly larger sizes and favor comfortable, synthetic fabrics.

  • Designers realize that they would have to manufacture separate lines for television, which could be a time drain. They also worry about alienating their retail partners.
"It needs refinement," said Randy Kemper. "Nothing seems to come off as sophisticated. It's like glass and not lead crystal.

"I don't think anybody is thinking about marketing their own designer collection on QVC yet," Kemper continued. "QVC asked whether I would consider doing a lesser-priced collection. It's not who I'm trying to appeal to. I don't think designer customers are home watching QVC. A lot of women buying designer clothing are working."

Michael Kors said, "The only reason we have not gotten involved with it is because I think it does take another product line. It's been a time thing. The regular collection is too high-priced. It's a different customer. There are also differences as to how you would fit things and cut things."

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