With three brands launching, Wicked Fashions Inc. is facing a big year.
The Fort Lee, N.J.-based parent company of junior sportswear labels Southpole and Lot29 is expanding its portfolio with the addition of Wckd, a junior line for the mass market; WhiteTag, a West Coast-inspired midtier collection, and Southpole Collection, a line of more fashion-forward junior sportswear. Also, the company is retooling its flagship brands. After all the changes take effect, David Strumeier, vice president of marketing, licensing and new business development for Wicked Fashions, said the company will bring in $1.5 billion in retail sales this year.
"Through research, we are able to see when there is a missing ingredient at retail and then come up with a quick recipe for that," Strumeier said, noting that the Wicked headquarters in Fort Lee houses 400 employees, 200 of whom are part of the design teams. "What we found for WhiteTag was the need for something fresh in the midtier, something to keep customers in the stores. For Wckd, there was a need for more fashion in the mass market. Everything was so basic."
Wckd, Strumeier said, was created for mass retailers and is now being sold at Kmart stores nationwide. Also for spring, the line will go into Mervyns and Against All Odds stores. The collection, which includes denim jeans, polos and graphic T-shirts, retails from $19.99 to about $29 and targets a consumer who would like to wear the Southpole brand, but cannot afford it.
WhiteTag, which will launch young men's exclusively with J.C. Penney stores for fall, will launch juniors at Penney's for spring 2009. That line, which also has graphic T-shirts, denim jeans (a boot cut, skinny and straight leg) and hoodies, is inspired by the West Coast rock 'n' roll scene, with tattoo-style graphic prints heavily represented. WhiteTag's design team created all of the artwork exclusively for the brand and small details seen on the product identify it with the brand name, such as with the signature white tag which loops over the top of the back waistband. The WhiteTag line will retail from $39 to $59.
Southpole Collection, an extension of the flagship brand, will be a more dressed-up, fashion-driven sportswear line consisting of printed jersey tops and dresses, dark jeans, jackets and career suiting."This girl wears Southpole, but she is a bit more grown-up now," Strumeier said. "She goes to the club, she has a job, she wants to get more dressed up and isn't looking for a logo as much anymore. It's sexy, elegant and chic, which is, again, something that was missing in the midtier."
Southpole Collection, which will launch for fall, has already been picked up by Sears, Mervyns and Against All Odds. The line retails from $30 to $130.
"All of our brands are carefully segmented so there is a distinct point of differentiation between them," Strumeier said. "You will never see the same product at a different price."
In addition to the new brands on tap, Wicked has reworked Southpole's designs to carry a slimmer fit, bolder art and surf- and skate-inspired detailing to broaden the appeal of the brand. Also within the Southpole line, the company has developed a denim replenishment program that is broken down into three key fits — the Rock 'n' Roll (low-rise skinny jeans), Freestyle (low-rise boot-cut design) and the Rave (a low-rise wide-leg style). The new fits will come with new hangtags explaining the details of each fit.
"We are constantly working to evolve the flagship brand," Strumeier said. "It used to be an urban/hip-hop label, but we've had a great deal of success with the crossover customer." Based on market research, he estimates Southpole's customer base is 40 percent Caucasian, 28 percent Hispanic, 26 percent African-American and 6 percent Asian, Native American and mixed race.
Lot29, which has become known for its character-driven apparel with Tweety Bird as a popular graphic found on everything from T-shirts and hoodies to jeans, also will be redesigned. And new for fall, Lot29 will incorporate Betty Boop and Wonder Woman into its junior assortment.
"We used to focus on the character and design around the character," Strumeier said. "Now we focus on the design and fit the character into it. So now the characters are still seen, but are a bit more modern and subtle in the graphics."
Next up, Strumeier said he is working on the development of two more brands. Those, he said, will launch for spring and fall 2009.
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