DALLAS — Haggar Corp. is courting the junior crowd with a new moderate sportswear label called World Clothing Co. that’s launching for holiday and early spring.The new line is angling for $9 million in first-year wholesale volume and will be designed and manufactured by Haggar Clothing Co.’s Jerell Ltd. division here, which Haggar acquired in 1999 as a venue to expand into women’s apparel.World Clothing Co. is aimed at 13-to-25 year-old junior customers and will focus on tailored but trendy pants, a market that Jerell executives view as the most lucrative segment of the junior business."When juniors see the members of Destiny’s Child wearing three-piece suits, they also want a tailored look. With World Clothing Co., we’re going way beyond denim bottoms," explained Pat McCormick, vice president of merchandising and design at Jerell.The debut collection includes novelty styles such as ethnic-inspired jacquards, Seventies sateens and lots of stretch cotton, including flower-power Sixties’ flares, and several tailored looks with men’s style waist treatments.Wholesale prices are $13.50 for simple stretch cotton trousers to $22.50 for novelty jacquard stretch flairs."Inspiration is everywhere, especially in California and in clubs. You want to tap into the next trend in juniors? Stand in front of Malibu High School and you’ll see trends," said McCormick, an apparel industry veteran who previously created two junior labels, Grass Roots and Generation X International, before joining Jerell. He also founded Condor Apparel Company in 1975."Young women love novelty bottoms, and there’s a real void in the market for moderately priced items. Go to a retail store and you’ll find lots at the high end and even more at the mass level, but not a lot in between. We’re filling that void with World Clothing Co.," explained Joel Presser, vice president of sales and marketing at Jerell. Presser previously founded and managed Presser Associates, an independent sales representative firm.Prior to joining Jerell earlier this year, Presser and McCormick conceived the idea for World Clothing Co. and pitched it to Jerell, which already had plans to enter the junior market but hadn’t yet come up with a line."We wanted a piece of the junior market but didn’t want to take the licensing route. We wanted it to be done in-house," explained Ed Vierling, president of Jerell."When McCormick and Presser approached us, we knew this was it. We’ve brought them and their idea in-house. We’re expecting great things from this line. The introduction of Haggar’s junior sportswear line comes at a time when the junior market is saturated with denim. Female consumers in the 13-to-25-year-old market are offered very few alternatives to the five-pocket jeans business. Haggar is seeking to fill that void with quality, fashionable pants at moderate price points."While general business conditions may determine whether the new line reaches its first-year target of $9 million, the line is on track to meet the goal. Wet Seal, Vanity Shops, The Buckle and Gadzooks are among the firms which have previewed and booked it.To sate the fickle junior consumer, who can embrace and then discard a trend within six weeks, Jerell plans to offer stores monthly deliveries of at least four to five fresh styles of World Clothing Co. The company already has booked 50,000 units in the first four weeks of line previews for October and November deliveries."When McCormick and Presser approached us with the idea for World Clothing Co., they knew they had the marketing, design and sales capability and backgrounds to create a very big launch," reflected Vierling. "But they needed the sourcing, operational and financial muscle of Haggar and Jerell to execute the line. It’s a perfect fit for everybody involved."World Clothing Co. isn’t the only new launch taking shape at Haggar. Though details aren’t finalized, the company is planning to roll out a new misses’ tailored fashion pants collection for spring incorporating the hidden expanding waistbands used in some of Haggar’s men’s wear.Haggar Clothing Co. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Haggar Corp., a marketer of men’s and women’s apparel that generated $444.6 million in revenues in fiscal 2001, 2.7 percent above the prior year. Restructuring costs of $20.2 million during the year resulted in an $8.7 million net loss for the year. In the most recent quarter, ended June 30, Haggar’s sales rose 2.8 percent to $111.2 million as net income dropped to $460,000.Haggar holds licenses with Liz Claiborne and DKNY for various fashion categories.
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