NEW YORK — Italian knitwear company Marina Spadafora is coming back to the U.S. next spring, after being out of the scene for about two years.

While designer Marina Spadafora never stopped producing the family owned line in Italy, which originated in 1987, the relaunch here marks its first time back in America after she took some time off to raise her family. This spring also marks the start of Spadafora designing the 77-year-old bridge line Gispa, which has a more relaxed style and look to appeal to a wide range of consumers. Gispa never left U.S. stores, even when the Marina Spadafora line went on sabbatical.

To be more retail friendly in these hard-pressed economic times, the company has lowered the prices on Marina Spadafora and is aiming to break in at bridge prices. Prices wholesale are from $89 for a cotton rayon T-shirt, $115 for a novelty basket weave cardigan and $215 for a knit jacket.

The Italian-made collection focuses on cotton and rayon knits and wovens, and spans about 90 pieces. The goal is to open in about 20 upscale specialty stores. First-year sales volume is set at about $500,000. For Gispa, annual volume is about $3 million.

"In Europe, Marina Spadafora is classified as designer, but she wanted to try and be more realistic with prices here," said Karin Reiter, national sales director, noting the American line parallels the Italian collection. "With everything going on in the U.S. right now, she wanted to be more flexible. But it will still be the high-end of bridge."

In the late Eighties, retailers like Henri Bendel and Bergdorf Goodman carried the Marina Spadafora line, and Gispa is sold at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus Direct and Nordstrom.

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