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Bandolino: Beyond Shoes

NEW YORK — Bandolino is going from shoes to clothes.<br><br>Banking on the philosophy that brands with a strong name can extend beyond their origins, Jones Apparel Group will launch Bandolino apparel as a complement to its footwear line in...

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NEW YORK — Bandolino is going from shoes to clothes.

Banking on the philosophy that brands with a strong name can extend beyond their origins, Jones Apparel Group will launch Bandolino apparel as a complement to its footwear line in department stores next fall. Like the current footwear brand, which was founded about 30 years ago, the apparel line will be moderately priced and target a fashion-conscious consumer.

“It’s intended to speak to the 25- to 45-year-old customer —the same consumer that wears the shoes,” said Lynne Fish, president of moderate apparel brands at Jones, during a recent look at the line at the Bandolino showroom at 1411 Broadway here. “She’s more modern and looking for trend-right merchandise.”

Rhonda Brown, president and chief executive officer of the footwear, accessories and retail division of the Nine West Group at Jones, which includes Bandolino, said now this customer can finally be “head-to-toe” in Bandolino.

“There’s a tremendously strong following with the name, and it has had significant growth over the last two years; we’re continuing that for next year,” Brown said. “Like the shoes, the line will be key-item driven and we’ll make sure the attitude of the apparel and the shoes are built on the same foundation. Whatever is fashion-correct of the season will now be covered in ready-to-wear.”

The company is also in the process of creating a handbag and accessories line for fall, as Brown added: “The essence of the brand will crossover all categories.”

Fish said the goal is to open Bandolino apparel in about 375 to 450 retail doors next fall. The company declined to give a first-year sales estimate, but analysts said it has potential to reach a volume of $100 million in several years.

The collection will offer a wide assortment of jackets, pants, skirts, sweaters and blouses. The fall collection will consist of about 100 styles. Fabrics will feature cotton canvas, bi-stretch gabardines, polyester suedes and soft-crinkled georgettes. While it will reflect all the current news in fashion, it will also be forgiving.

“This consumer wants to feel modern, but she wants to feel age-appropriate,” Fish said. “So the fit will suit a woman who has had one or two children but maybe hasn’t gotten to the gym in a while. It will also give her some form.”

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Prices will wholesale from about $12.50 for a cut-and-sew T-shirt to $25 for a constructed blazer. Aimed to be a lifestyle collection, there will be career and casual elements, as well as social looks for the holidays, Fish said.

It will be divided into three segments: “Bandolino Basics,” featuring key items and separates; the core collection, consisting of fresh seasonal color palettes and trends, and every four to six weeks “Bandolino’s Best,” a program taken from the shoe line that focuses on the “must-have” items of the season.

While still being developed, a national ad campaign for fall featuring images of the rtw, and footwear lines will have a “significant investment,” Brown said. The ads will be placed in magazines and grassroots events across the country.

Liz Haesler, senior vice president of rtw and intimates for Marshall Field’s, said she was impressed with the concept and quality after seeing the line last week.

“There were some unbelievable must-haves that were truly unique,” Haesler said. “It wasn’t about peasant blouses and low-rise jeans —?it’s not a sportswear line, but much more updated and focused. Today’s consumer shops a variety of different price points, and I think she buys at a lot of different levels. I believe that Bandolino will replace something else on our floor because it’s definitely more updated.”

Haesler also noted that if Easy Spirit and Nine West — two other brands with origins in footwear that developed into apparel lines — are any indication, Bandolino should translate well into apparel.

“Easy Spirit has been a phenomenal launch for us,” she said. “It’s going to exceed plan, and Nine West has just been fabulous.”

Still, the only challenge Fish can foresee is working with retailers on the placement of the line.

“One of the common questions is ‘Where should we put this?’, so we’re working hand in hand with the stores from a placement point of view,” she added. “This is something the stores have been looking forward to, so we don’t see it being so hard to launch.”

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