By  on October 4, 2007

CHICAGO — Liz Claiborne Apparel has a new marketing tool — denim.

The goal is to entice customers with a flattering pair of jeans and get them to keep coming back for more. That's the driving force behind the company's nationwide denim tour, launched with Glamour magazine and headlined by fashion guru Tim Gunn, Claiborne's chief creative officer. The six-city tour, complete with traveling "glam van," made its second "fit stop" for a crowd of some 300 women outside the Carson Pirie Scott at Yorktown Center, near Chicago in suburban Lombard, Ill., two weeks ago.

The company rolled out $39 to $79 jeans with new cuts, colors, washes and novelty stitching and marketed its denim selection with special signage in stores to explain the different styles, which come in misses' sizes 2 to 16, larger sizes from 14 to 24 and in petites sizes 2 to 16.

For some women, trying on jeans is a dreaded task akin to trying on swimsuits, said Michele Parsons, president and chief merchandising officer for the Liz Claiborne Apparel division.

"A lot of women are afraid of it," she said. "They think denim is only something you can wear if you're slim or six feet tall."

Leave it to Gunn, of Bravo's "Project Runway" to, using his phrase, "make it work.'' Gunn said he helped women to make better choices and give up jeans that were too faded and too big or cinched at the waist but baggy and saggy in the hip and thigh.

"They looked like they could go out and pick some corn," he said. "They didn't look like fashion."

But after a few minutes in the glam van, more than 100 women emerged fitted and transformed, Gunn said.

In particular, Gunn, who also hosts Bravo's "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style," cited one woman in her 60s with an average build who left saying, "'I look fantastic in the slim cut,'" Gunn recalled. "She was reborn. She was thrilled. We had a lot of happy women."

Claiborne's darker boot-cut silhouette was the most popular because it was the most universally flattering, he said.

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