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Gloria Aims at Contemporary

NEW YORK — Gloria Vanderbilt has something new for the fashion-conscious, moderate customer.<br><br>For the spring 2003 retailing season, the New York-based brand is rolling out a new denim line called Gloria. Its design niche is to offer styling...

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NEW YORK — Gloria Vanderbilt has something new for the fashion-conscious, moderate customer.

This story first appeared in the October 3, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

For the spring 2003 retailing season, the New York-based brand is rolling out a new denim line called Gloria. Its design niche is to offer styling similar to that in the company’s Glo junior jeans line, but with a misses fit. The goal is contemporary styling at moderate price points.

“This is a launch that is needed in the moderate area,” said Jack Gross, president of Gloria Vanderbilt. “I believe that just because the moderate consumer is looking for the affordable price point, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want fashionable clothes. With Gloria we are adapting designer jeans for the misses customer. I really think this new line will motivate the customer to come into the moderate department.”

Wholesaling from $16 to $17, the first Gloria line consists of about 10 jeans styles, with a fit for a misses customer looking for the latest fashions in denim. For example, fabrics are chemically processed, tinted and overdyed, as well as creased, pin-tucked and pinstriped. The jeans have lower rises than the Gloria Vanderbilt line, but higher than the Glo line, to make them more comfortable for the woman wearing them.

“A woman can easily bend down in these jeans and the back waistband will still cover everything the way it should,” Gross said.

To show that these are jeans made by the Gloria Vanderbilt company, the back pocket carries the signature stitching and the Gloria logo is stenciled onto the inside of the waistband. While Gross said that the Gloria line is modeled after the styling of higher-end jeans brands, the line is available at affordable prices.

“This customer wants to spend $30 or $40 for a pair of jeans,” he said. “Not $100 or more. The fortunate thing for us is that we are like the designer name for middle America. It’s all about brand recognition today and people recognize our name.”

According to Julie Tung, creative director for the brand, the focus of the Gloria line will be denim-driven with an emphasis on bottoms. For fall 2003, the company will add a collection of denim-friendly tops to work with the jeans.

The company is also planning to launch a print ad campaign, in-store fixtures and signs to introduce the new label, as well as to run gift-with-purchase programs with select retailers. Gross said he plans to target the line at stores where the main Gloria Vanderbilt label already is sold, including J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and Mervyn’s.

“The line will hang in the moderate departments, but this is a completely different customer than the one that shops Gloria Vanderbilt,” he said. “I believe that eventually, this will lead stores to create a contemporary department within the moderate departments. We are already exceeding our expectations with orders.”

Gross said the company sees this launch as part of an overall brand extension for the Gloria Vanderbilt name. In spring 2001, the company rolled out the Glo line, a junior label highlighted by the latest trends for the teen shopper. The Gloria label will fill the niche between Glo and the main Gloria Vanderbilt line. Gross said another launch is on the drawing board. While he declined to offer many details, he said the company plans to launch for fall 2003 retailing a brand that will target department stores, a step up in price from Gloria Vanderbilt’s current distribution.

Gross declined to offer sales projections for the Gloria line. Sales for all the brand’s lines last were $146 million.

Gloria Vanderbilt landed some significant backing in April, when Jones Apparel Group Inc. acquired it in a $143.7 million deal. Jones cited Gloria Vanderbilt’s distribution channels — national chains, as opposed to the department stores where Jones does the bulk of its sales — as a key factor in its decision to acquire the brand.

Jones, which also produces the Polo Jeans Co. line, has been beefing up its presence in the jeans market this year. As reported, in July the company agreed to acquire the Los Angeles-based maker of LEI jeans, a major player in the junior denim category.

Jones’ second-quarter income rose 20 percent to $66.5 million, versus $55.4 million in the year-ago quarter. Total revenues were up 10 percent to $972.1 million from $883.9 million. Licensing income in the quarter grew 9 percent to $6 million from $5.5 million. Wholesale better apparel sales were down 12.7 percent to $343.7 million, compared with $393.7 million a year ago, while wholesale moderate apparel sales, boosted by the acquisitions of McNaughton Apparel Group and Gloria Vanderbilt, rose 175.5 percent to $224 million.

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