Activewear giants have the prime-time commercials and big-name athletes, but a crop of faded labels are stirring an undercurrent to pull in fickle shoppers.

Fred Perry, Hummel, Kappa and Le Tigre are back on the U.S. women’s scene. Most of them were started decades back, but now they’re giving their women’s lines a jolt of fashion.

Eclipsed by bigger names in the Eighties, these four labels are primed for a little revenge. They’re going after savvy consumers — especially Generation Y — who want no part of the mass-appeal labels. The group also aims to capture Baby Boomers with a whiff of nostalgia for the brands they may have worn as teens.

Represented by the Avalon Group in New York, Fred Perry is available in 140 stores in the U.S. and is pursuing style-conscious stores like Fred Segal, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. But prices aren’t at the designer level. They run between $17.50 and $65. Ads have been placed in The Face, Fader, Vice and Interview magazines.

Women’s apparel is expected to increase from 30 to 40 percent of all U.S. sales within the next two years, said John Kalupa, co-owner of the Avalon Group. Worldwide wholesale volume is $130 million. The late Fred Perry, a former Wimbledon champion, started his company in 1936.

Headed up by creative director Jeanette Bronée, Hummel’s new women’s design team has dressed up its collection with slender silhouettes and embroidered items that play off the brand’s athletic heritage. Classics continue to be a drawing card with stores like Urban Outfitters, but the brand’s fashion group is catching on with such specialty stores as Amy Chan and Barneys New York.

Hummel America is based in Colmar, Pa., but staffers are busy placing product with music and entertainment types in more influential parts of the country like Los Angeles and New York. Items wholesale from $18 to $69. The company was founded in Denmark in 1923.

Le Tigre, which bows in stores for spring, is also going after the fashion crowd. Trendsetters on a budget will likely be drawn to the line’s wholesale prices of $8 to $14.As a teaser for the relaunch in specialty stores, Le Tigre is sending 500 limited-edition shirts to stylists, publicists and members of the media. Well known in the Seventies for its polo shirts, the company now has some updated pieces like halters, tube tops and tanks.

Co-owner Ryan O’Sullivan, a former investor banker, said first-year projected volume is 500,000 units.

Kappa still has offices in Turin, Italy, where the company was founded in 1916. The aim is to recapture some of the market with shorts, T-shirts and other basics that will wholesale from$12.50 to $24. First-year projected wholesale volume is $500,000, said president Craig Scott. The U.S. base is run by Reda Sports in West Easton, Pa.

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