By  on May 5, 2005

DALLAS — Known for fashion inspired by Western heritage, Double D Ranch has evolved to offer embellished styles that seem more suitable for rock stars than cowgirls. Yet the company is still considered a Western label and doesn’t have much presence as a national brand.

In an effort to remedy that, the family-run firm is preparing a fall advertising campaign to thrust it onto the national stage and portray Double D purely as fashion and not ranchwear.

“We’ve been pushing the design; it’s really not Western,” said designer Cheryl McMullen. “Less than 10 percent of our stores are Western stores.”

McMullen started the business in 1989 with a Navajo-style Pendleton wool blanket jacket that was a quick success. Double D has since expanded to offer a 200-piece sportswear collection, Southwestern jewelry, leather handbags, belts, furniture and home furnishings such as pillows.

With McMullen in charge of design, her sisters, Audrey Franz and Hedy Carter, manage sales and production, respectively, while their mother, Margie McMullen, handles finance. Dad Doug McMullen was the first sales rep and gave the line its name, which stands for “Doug and Daughters.” He has retired and is devoted to collecting Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The family lives on ranches in and around Yoakum, Tex., population 7,249, and raises cattle branded with two interlocked Ds. The company occupies six buildings in downtown Yoakum, and manufactures in the U.S. as well as in China and India.

Expansion is driving Double D’s attempt to shake its authentic Western image. The firm does most of its $8 million in annual sales with about 450 specialty stores in the West and Midwest, as well as in Nordstrom in the Rocky Mountains and Dillard’s in the Southwest. Now its goal is to develop retail accounts on the East Coast.

Double D already has customers in the East, with 90 percent of sales from its two-year-old transactional Web site, ddranchwear.com, coming from such shoppers, many of whom have discovered the label while traveling, Franz noted.

To enhance the appeal to that demographic, Double D produced an edgy fall campaign shot in downtown Los Angeles by Larry Bartholomew. It has a rock ’n’ roll theme and the tag line, “Turn it up.” The images, such as a model reclining on a Harley in a leopard-print fur bolero, cropped top, jeans and an Indian beaded belt, are intended to catch a more urban audience.

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