NICOLE'S LATEST: MILLER BY MAIL

Byline: Arthur Friedman

NEW YORK--After a three-year expansion into retailing, the princess of prints is taking the next step: catalogs.
At the end of this month, Nicole Miller Ltd. will mail its first book of fall merchandise to 70,000 consumers across the country.
The mailing list was compiled from customer lists at the company's 14 U.S. boutiques, according to Bud Konheim, president of Nicole Miller.
The 24-page catalog, which cost about $250,000 to produce, was shot in color and black and white by Mario Sorrenti and Raymond Meier. Meier shot the still life pages, while Sorrenti photographed the fashion worn by models Shalom, Jaime Rishar and Tony Bruce.
The front cover sports a Nicole Miller diaper pin with charms, while the inside offers mostly dresses--the company's core product--as well as women's sportswear, scarves and umbrellas, men's blazers, boxer shorts and ties, and women's and men's coats, watches and travel bags. The back cover has a list of telephone numbers of all the stores, as well as a toll-free number to reach the company's headquarters here to place orders. All orders will be handled in-house.
"The catalog is a culmination of how our business is changing," Konheim said. "A traditional advertising vehicle is like shouting in a noisy room--you end up not being heard. We've become very niche-driven in our retail and marketing scheme, so catalogs seemed the right way to go to reach customers in a certain area that are not aware of Nicole Miller."
Konheim said that if the fall catalog proves successful, he could see doing two to four a year featuring seasonal merchandise. Although he has no specific projection, Konheim said, "If the catalog increased business in the stores by 10 percent, I'd be thrilled."
Since 1991, the company has grown from its original boutique on Madison Avenue here to 24 stores worldwide. Konheim said each averages about $750,000 to $1 million in annual sales; overall retail sales are projected at about $20 million this year. Three of the stores are company-owned, and the rest are franchised. The company is on target to reach $55 million in sales this year.
Konheim added that at the end of the month, a page from the catalog will be reproduced on a large billboard at the end of the Long Island Expressway near the entrance to the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

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