NEW YORK — Calvin Klein wants teens to have more Choice.
The Calvin Klein label will expand into a new niche this fall with the launch of Choice Calvin Klein aimed at the 14-to-22-year-old consumer who wants hip, aesthetically identifiable, yet affordable designer lingerie and underwear.
But that’s only part of the strategy. Plans are also under way to rebrand Calvin Klein swimwear with the Choice Calvin Klein name, beginning in spring 2005, said Tom Murry, president and chief operating officer of Calvin Klein Inc. “Swimwear is also a global business, so there will be a consistency for the young contemporary consumer who buys Calvin Klein underwear and swimwear.”
Warnaco Group licenses Calvin Klein Swimwear from CKI but owns the trademarks for Calvin Klein Underwear.
“We feel this is a very important segment of the market, and we believe it is a huge global opportunity for us,” said Murry. “The [lingerie and underwear] product looks terrific, and we’re trying to get as much market share as we can.”
The new intimates brand, which will debut in July at 575 major department and specialty store doors in the U.S. as well as top stores in Europe and Asia, will feature product that is different from the existing Calvin Klein intimates. The line will highlight vibrant color, swim- and active-inspired looks, and whimsical prints including rock ’n’ roll flyers, doodle motifs and slogans on T-shirts like “Hungry for Love.” The marketing and merchandising key, though, will be the option of mixing and matching separates.
The new label addresses a consumer base that Victoria’s Secret has been cultivating for the past two years with its updated Pink brand targeted to teenagers, as well as an unserviced customer at department stores who doesn’t want juvenile-looking prints of baby ducks and teddy bears or licensed characters such as Pooh and Mickey Mouse.
Suggested retail for Choice Calvin Klein intimates will be 25 to 30 percent lower than the established Calvin Klein lingerie, said Matthew McCarthy, executive vice president of Calvin Klein Underwear for women. Soft-cup and underwire bras will retail from $18 to $22 compared with $26 to $35 for Calvin Klein; camis will average in the low $20s while Calvin Klein camis go for $32 to $36, and coordinated bottoms will be tagged $10 to $12, compared with $18 to $22. Bra cup sizes will be 32A to 36C; tops, chemises and underwear will be S, M, L.From a retailer’s perspective, Donna Wolff, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of intimate apparel at Bloomingdale’s, said, “We’re trying to capture that young East Side contemporary customer. Choice definitely captures a young-minded customer. It’s definitely not kitsch and corny. We think it’s hip and has a nice sportswear flavor that works well with Calvin Klein jeans.”
Bob Mazzoli, chief creative officer of Calvin Klein Underwear, noted, “It’s fair to say for us Choice is a junior-age brand. But in a lot of ways we see it as a natural evolution for expansion of the brand. It’s for a younger customer to be creative with a look of her own with the Calvin Klein aesthetic. The consumer is the inspiration for the brand.”
Mazzoli said the brand was named Choice to stimulate an emotional, youthful connection and express a spirit of independence and freedom of choice. “We don’t want to be categorized. Choice Calvin Klein is more improvisational. We want the consumer who buys the iPod and the mini iPod.”
Officials at Calvin Klein would not give sales projections. But according to industry estimates, the launch of Choice Calvin Klein could bolster annual wholesale revenues of Calvin Klein Underwear by 5 to 10 percent. In 2003, combined net sales of Calvin Klein Underwear for women, men, and kids totaled $279 million, up from $239 million the prior year, said Deborah Abraham, corporate director of investor relations at Warnaco. In 2003, European revenue of Calvin Klein Underwear exceeded $110 million, and Asian operationswere over $25 million.
“We think Choice Calvin Klein could be significant to the Calvin Klein business as well as Warnaco over time,” said Abraham.
The numbers could well exceed conservative projections. In the U.S., of the $12.4 billion lingerie business at retail, females in the 13-to-24 age range accounted for 30 percent of purchases, which represents the largest representation of all age categories, according to NPD Fashionworld.
Choice by Calvin Klein intimates is merchandised by Amy Ligouri and designed by Mireille Gindrey, who is also vice president of design for Calvin Klein swimwear. The intimates will be housed in shop environments with signature bright orange and white powder-finish fixtures, including a four-drawer dresser that will be a tabletop display for a panties program. The hang tag of bright orange rubber with a white logo suspended on a removable stainless steel chain will complement the in-store environment, as well as an advertising campaign which breaks in August 2004.
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