By  on October 25, 2007

Pepsi-Cola North America is ready to take the apparel challenge.

The beverage brand is launching the Pepsi Clothing women's line for spring, following a fall 2006 men's launch. The women's line will add a juniors bent to the urban angle of the men's collection, which capitalizes on Pepsi's music ties and is sold exclusively in urban specialty stores.

"This line is not about consuming Pepsi — it's about Pepsi as a pop culture icon," said Joanne Loria, executive vice president of the Joester Loria Group, Pepsi's licensing agency. "With 100 years of history, Pepsi has an archive base of heritage art, ad images and slogans to work with to meet a wide variety of trends, whether urban or retro is 'in' at a particular point."

The women's lineup includes active wear, denim, tops and outerwear, wholesaling from about $12 to $50.

A decade ago, Pepsi created Pepsi Stuff, a line of T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, jackets and other items, promoted with TV commercials featuring Cindy Crawford and Shaquille O'Neal. But Loria called this line the first real "fashion collection," which utilizes Pepsi archive graphics both subtly, like denim with graphic elements on the back pockets or on piping, and boldly, with graphic T-shirts.

Loria declined to project sales volume of the women's collection — which was unveiled at MAGIC — but predicted it could be bigger than men's, because of more product category options. Both the women's and men's lines are designed by Christopher "MC Handz" Rogers. The men's line is already in 200 doors, and Loria thinks women's could be in up to 1,000 within a year, capitalizing on many of the men's stores while adding junior specialty stores and department stores. It's also sold at pepsistyle.com.

The Assis Group is supporting the launch with national promotions and events in its eight New York-area stores. Pepsi also is marketing the apparel through promotional initiatives like the Pepsi Smash Mary J. Blige concert promotion, which featured a Pepsi clothing fashion show, and MTV "Webisodes" of a fashion reality show called "Fashion: The Life," which follows three young designers and their lines — including the Pepsi collection.

"We believe in viral marketing," Loria said. "This is not a line that will be advertised in style magazines, but could be photographed on a star and featured in that magazine."

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