CONVERSE BACK IN WOMEN'S GAME

Byline: Karyn Monget

NEW YORK--After a six-year hiatus, the Converse name will make a comeback in women's activewear at the activewear and bodywear market here next week. Deliveries are scheduled to begin Dec. 15.
The line is being produced by Active Apparel Group under license from Converse Inc.
Earlier this month, the line was previewed at a party and informal fashion show at the new Converse showroom for women's apparel at 1350 Broadway.
First-year wholesale sales projection is between $4 million and $5 million, said Rita Cinque, vice president of Active Sport.
Distribution is aimed at department and specialty stores, sporting goods outlets and athletic footwear stores.
Wholesale prices start at $10.75 for a princess-seamed bra top and go to $18 for a colorblock unitard.
There will be two groups--a performance wear group and an active sport group. Each group will include bra tops, bike shorts, leotards and unitards in cotton and Lycra spandex. Performance wear will also feature leggings.
Special detailing includes gussets lined in CoolMax, and 3/4-inch-wide leg grips of rubberized elastic. Solid colors will be black, heather and ecru.
The sport group will have four additional styles in novelty plaids and colorblocks: a pleated tennis skirt and a baby T-shirt, both of cotton and Lycra, and a cotton piqué knit crop polo shirt and a short-sleeved T-shirt of cotton knit.
A SportSupport bra lined in cotton and Lycra will feature special detailing: double-stitched seams for added reinforcement; non-stretch center face seaming for breast separation; seamless elastic antichafing band and adjustable stretch straps.
The bra wholesales for $13. Sizes are S in A and B cup; M in B and C cup; L in C and D cup and XL in D cup. Colors are black, heather and ecru. "We've gone in the opposite direction of the Wonderbras, which are great to wear at nightclubs," said Cinque. "Our bra is meant to be worn as a true activewear piece."
Hal Worsham, director of licensing for Converse, based in North Reading, Mass., noted that the relaunch of the women's line ties in with the growing popularity of active apparel.
"The Converse name is tough and rugged. It's not a bubble gum name," said Worsham. "We thought it was a real opportunity to meet women's demands for true performance wear.
"The few items we did in women's apparel several years ago were only complementary pieces to go with the men's line," he continued. "Now, we have an entire high-performance line for women."
Cinque noted that the 86-year-old Converse name and its 77-year-old star logo made the line appealing to women. "Women just love the logo," said Cinque.
Worsham added, "Women want the logos really big, while men like a more subtle, smaller logo" on sports apparel. Each item in the women's line prominently features the logo, which was updated a year ago into a shooting star.

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