WWD.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/specialty-lines-lift-their-profile-760886/
government-trade
government-trade

Specialty Lines Lift Their Profile

NEW YORK — Activewear’s big guns garner much of the hype, but a handful of lesser-known labels are emerging from the crowded athletic field with their own finesse.<br><br>Brooks Sports, a Botthel, Wash.-based company that has long focused...

NEW YORK — Activewear’s big guns garner much of the hype, but a handful of lesser-known labels are emerging from the crowded athletic field with their own finesse.

Brooks Sports, a Botthel, Wash.-based company that has long focused on runners, has a two-tier approach for fall: a new “performance race series” for elite runners and “energy wear” for less intense fitness enthusiasts. Parker Karnan, director of apparel sales, noted that newness helped boost first-half sales. This fall the race series is expected to generate $100,000 at wholesale. The company had sales of $17 million last year.

“The category is growing because a lot of ‘boomers’ are recognizing their mortality and are getting fit,” Karnan said.

With Norm Zwail back at the helm of Weekend Exercise Co., after retiring a few years back, the company is working closer to season, selling holiday now, instead of spring, as most activewear firms are doing.

For the first time in years, the company has developed a print campaign for its Marika label and has hired a New York sales rep. It is also sponsoring an array of women athletes, such as skateboarder Cara Beth Burnside and pro surfer Holly Beck, to wear its offerings after competitions. The company has invested $350,000 in the brand’s advertising, marketing and public relations, Zwail said.

Next week, Yogini, a year-old yogawear maker based here, is set to launch an informational Web site that does not focus on its embroidered products, but will feature essays about philosophy and authors, said Debra Rodman, a former literary agent who founded the company last year. For fall, Yogini is branching out to more fashion specialty stores.

Lisa Toledo is another newcomer to the scene. Her hip-hop–inspired line called Element 5 was launched this summer in 10 stores. An avid breakdancer and hip-hop dancer, Toledo has performed at special events sponsored by Nike and her street style gives Element 5 a sportswear edge. Toledo, a former marketing executive at Prada, has doubled the size of the fall line to try to land more contemporary store accounts.

“With the whole casualization of the American look, women also want clothes that are very versatile,” Toledo said. “There’s a lot of inspiration that’s coming from dancers.”

This story first appeared in the July 11, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

NEW YORK — Activewear’s big guns garner much of the hype, but a handful of lesser-known labels are emerging from the crowded athletic field with their own finesse.

Brooks Sports, a Botthel, Wash.-based company that has long focused on runners, has a two-tier approach for fall: a new “performance race series” for elite runners and “energy wear” for less intense fitness enthusiasts. Parker Karnan, director of apparel sales, noted that newness helped boost first-half sales. This fall the race series is expected to generate $100,000 at wholesale. The company had sales of $17 million last year.

“The category is growing because a lot of ‘boomers’ are recognizing their mortality and are getting fit,” Karnan said.

With Norm Zwail back at the helm of Weekend Exercise Co., after retiring a few years back, the company is working closer to season, selling holiday now, instead of spring, as most activewear firms are doing.

For the first time in years, the company has developed a print campaign for its Marika label and has hired a New York sales rep. It is also sponsoring an array of women athletes, such as skateboarder Cara Beth Burnside and pro surfer Holly Beck, to wear its offerings after competitions. The company has invested $350,000 in the brand’s advertising, marketing and public relations, Zwail said.

Next week, Yogini, a year-old yogawear maker based here, is set to launch an informational Web site that does not focus on its embroidered products, but will feature essays about philosophy and authors, said Debra Rodman, a former literary agent who founded the company last year. For fall, Yogini is branching out to more fashion specialty stores.

Lisa Toledo is another newcomer to the scene. Her hip-hop–inspired line called Element 5 was launched this summer in 10 stores. An avid breakdancer and hip-hop dancer, Toledo has performed at special events sponsored by Nike and her street style gives Element 5 a sportswear edge. Toledo, a former marketing executive at Prada, has doubled the size of the fall line to try to land more contemporary store accounts.

“With the whole casualization of the American look, women also want clothes that are very versatile,” Toledo said. “There’s a lot of inspiration that’s coming from dancers.”