By  on December 9, 2008

Marc Ecko Enterprises isn’t giving up on juniors.

The $1.5 billion firm, which does the majority of its apparel business in men’s wear, is trying juniors again by relaunching its Ecko Red brand for winter selling. The move comes after repeated attempts in juniors — it was licensed to Paul Davril Inc. from September 2004 until early 2007, then taken back in-house and relaunched as Red by Marc Ecko in fall 2007. Juniors is now being licensed to Icer Brands, which just relaunched Ecko Red at retail late last month.

“In time, we plan to bring the Red by Marc Ecko brand back as a higher-end brand, similar to what we do with Marc Ecko Cut & Sew for men,” said Jeff Strumeier, president of licensing at Ecko. “But now, we are putting Ecko Red in the hands of Icer Brands, who we really believe in.”

Icer Brands, which also produces the $300 million Apple Bottoms brand, has redesigned and produced a full collection of junior sportswear for Ecko Red. James Ferrell, marketing director for the Ecko Red and Apple Bottoms brands, said the new product hit major department and specialty store floors on Nov. 28.

“Macy’s had a selection of Ecko Red T-shirts, so we are working to make sure the new product hits [the stores], shop-in-shops are back in place early next year and everything runs as smooth as possible,” Ferrell said. “Marc Ecko has always been so well-known for men’s, and with juniors, their mentality has always been to take what they have with men’s and turn it into juniors. That just never really works.”

For the relaunch, the collection is logo-heavy, with the brand’s signature rhino seen on hoodies, T-shirts, jackets, polos and jeans. There’s also an activewear segment of the line — highlighted by velour tracksuits and logo tank tops. Colors for the first season out are bright — red, orange, pink and purple — surrounded by gold, brown and black. The line takes cues from its men’s wear component in prints, such as the tattoo-print T-shirts and reversible jackets and hoodies. In denim, the company is launching with three signature fits — straight leg, skinny and boot cut. The collection wholesales from $11 to $38.50.

“This is a true junior urban line,” Ferrell said. “We know that urban isn’t doing well right now, which is why we are aiming at a range of girls — the skater girl, the all-American girl.”

The company already sells Ecko Red sneakers under a licensing agreement with Skechers. Ferrell said the sneakers continue to perform well, and Skechers will have its Ecko Red spokesmodels, “High School Musical” stars Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale, decked in the new Ecko Red apparel in ads. This year’s Ecko float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was dedicated to the Ecko Red brand.

The new Ecko Red has been picked up by Macy’s and Bon-Ton, as well as other major department and specialty stores. Ferrell said first-year wholesale volume is projected at $20 million to $25 million.

Marc Ecko Enterprises owns and operates a wide range of apparel brands, including Ecko Unltd., Zoo York, G-Unit and Avirex. Ecko Red and Zoo York are the only brands serving the junior market. G-Unit and Avirex closed their junior lines earlier this year. In addition to apparel, there is Complex magazine and the video game segment of the business — all housed in the company’s 275,000-square-foot office space at 40 West 23rd Street here.

Strumeier declined comment on the progress of the 30,000-square-foot Ecko flagship on 42nd Street in Times Square, which has been under construction since 2005.

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