NEW YORK--Delta Burke is bulking up. Burke, best known for her five-year stint as Suzanne Sugarbaker on the sitcom "Designing Women," is swiftly building up her moderate-to-better-price large-size apparel and accessories licensing venture, Delta Burke Design. "This is not high end," said the actress in a recent interview in her New York showroom at 12 West 57th St. "I want women to be able to get this stuff. But I don't want it to be cheap and sleazy, either. It's that nice middle ground." Delta Burke Design bowed at the March edition of the MAGIC trade show in Las Vegas with just one or two licensees. Now, Burke has six apparel licensees and is shopping for swimwear, accessories, lingerie and bridal agreements. "Of course, I wanted to do every category right away, but Ross [Klein, creative director of Delta Burke] explained to me that that's not how it's done," said Burke. Current licensees include: W.E. Stephens for jeanswear, Kayo of California for denim sportswear, Reference Point for knitwear, Ann Travis Inc. for woven-related separates, Joan Walters for career separates and Chez California for dresses. All of the categories are exclusively for large sizes. Wholesale prices are around $15.50 for jeanswear, $40 for dresses, $32.50 to $75 for soft dressing and $8 to $16 for knitwear. Delta Burke Design's first market week starts today, with the initial delivery scheduled for Oct. 30. The apparel is targeted to a variety of outlets, ranging from Federated Department Stores and Bon MarchA to J.C. Penney and Mercantile Stores. Klein said he expects the company to generate between $18 million and $25 million in gross bookings for all divisions in its first 18 months. Burke is no slouch when it comes to marketing her products. She's spending $2.1 million on a national ad campaign and will produce a newsletter to go to retailers. The company has a toll-free number (1-800-DELTA-14) for women to call to find out where they can buy Delta Burke Design. There will also be a 900 number for women to sign up for Burke's "advisory council," which encourages customer feedback on the clothes and asks them to recommend new categories. "I want to hear what women want, directly from them," said Burke. "And I'm looking forward to doing the personal appearances. After all, I'm an actress."
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