By  on November 10, 2004

NEW YORK — A series of launches has stirred up better sportswear this year, but two industry stalwarts — Jones Apparel Group and Liz Claiborne Inc. — are still seen as significant players.

They are clearly the market leaders in girth. The various incarnations of the Liz Claiborne brand boast annual sales of some $1.4 billion, while Jones New York weighs in at $1 billion. Both companies also produce other brands at the better-price segment, such as City DKNY at Claiborne and AK Anne Klein at Jones.

“It continues to be the bedrock of this organization,” Jones’ president and chief executive officer Peter Boneparth said of the firm’s better-priced segment, during a conference call discussing third-quarter results last month. “There have been a lot of new entrants that have generated a lot of enthusiasm for the consumer, but I would say that the results from that competition were at best mixed.”

New entrants with better offerings in the department stores include H Hilfiger from Tommy Hilfiger Corp.; Calvin Klein, produced under license by Kellwood Co.; Michael Michael Kors, and Realities from Claiborne, as well as Jones New York Signature. While Claiborne and Jones have their roots in the better business, the Calvin Klein line, which has been well received, is Kellwood’s more recent move into the sector.

Some of the newcomers have turned in mixed results, as has been well documented and acknowledged by vendors for months.

Still, the new brands are a competitive challenge to the more established names such as Liz Claiborne and Jones New York.

“The pie is only so large and when a retailer has to evaluate their open-to-buys, they have to evaluate product and it’s going to come from somebody,” said Allan Ellinger, senior managing director at Marketing Management Group. “It seems that the new guard is eating away at the old guard.”

However, he added, “If the newer brands that came to the market don’t perform and aren’t fine-tuned quickly enough, than retailers may revert back to safe ground and the old guard brands.”

Hilfiger’s H had some trouble getting out of the gate for spring, while Realities also has had a rough start, the brands’ producers have acknowledged. Michael, which launched for fall, started out with shipping problems and has undergone management changes, according to the company. People familiar with the matter said the brand also trimmed 25 employees from the better line’s payroll last month.

To Read the Full Article

Tap into our Global Network

Of Industry Leaders and Designers

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus