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Nike Gets Exclusive With High-End Label

NEW YORK — Nike is ready to serve up its high-end White Label.<br><br>More sportswear than activewear, the fashion-slanted collection will bow in select specialty stores this spring. Unlike the brand’s standard fare, White Label is...

NEW YORK — Nike is ready to serve up its high-end White Label.

This story first appeared in the July 31, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

More sportswear than activewear, the fashion-slanted collection will bow in select specialty stores this spring. Unlike the brand’s standard fare, White Label is formfitting and offers more design pizzazz, such as large-scale prints, metallic logos and such vibrant shades as lime green and bright blue. It’s also priced about 20 percent higher, retailing from $30 for a T-shirt to $125 for a catsuit.

When it lands in stores in January, White Label will carry a white hang tag bearing the swoosh along with product information. It will not specifically spell out the name White Label.

Tom Kennedy, vice president of apparel for the U.S., said, “If it’s in 100 doors, I’d be very content. It’s not meant to be enormous. I have another business that’s enormous. This is meant to be really tight and relevant.”

Saks Fifth Avenue will be the sole national retailer selling White Label in 20 of its stores. White Label is aimed at women who are active, young at heart, fashion-conscious and individualistic, Kennedy said. It also provides a testing ground for Nike’s international design teams to push the limits of how much color and embellishment consumers will take. Hooded halter dresses, after all, aren’t exactly run-of-the-mill for Nike.

Despite its emphasis on fashion, the 20-piece collection is made of performance fabrics like Nike’s proprietary Dri FIT, technical mesh and fabrics designed to help shield ultraviolet rays. Distribution is expected to center on specialty stores in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami, Kennedy said. Overseas, the collection is available on a limited basis in directional stores like Colette in Paris.

More than anything, the brand is out to make a statement without blitzing consumers with flashy imagery as it typically does. Advertising is not planned, with the hope that those in the know will spread the word to their equally influential friends. Like finding a screen print on the inside of a sweatshirt, “We want the whole product range to have a sense of discovery,” Kennedy said.