Spring Ads to Lift Sag Harbor

NEW YORK — Swimming with the tide of the moderate market, Sag Harbor has tweaked its fashions to bring a more updated feel to the line, and now it’s time to communicate that to the consumer.<BR><BR>Kellwood Co., which owns the $600 million...

View Slideshow

NEW YORK — Swimming with the tide of the moderate market, Sag Harbor has tweaked its fashions to bring a more updated feel to the line, and now it’s time to communicate that to the consumer.

Kellwood Co., which owns the $600 million brand, is launching Sag Harbor’s first national marketing campaign for spring, which will be a multimillion-dollar effort.

“Sag Harbor is Kellwood’s flagship brand,” said Stephen Ruzow, president of women’s wear. “We really neglected getting the message of Sag Harbor out there, and we’re remedying that now.”

Kellwood doesn’t have the exposure of a signature line as enjoyed by other companies in the industry, such as Liz Claiborne Inc. or Jones Apparel Group.

“We have over the past two years really modernized the product, because we’re seeing that in the moderate zone, the customer’s shopping habits have changed,” Ruzow said. “The 45- to 50-year-old customer is really not dressing today, even the way she dressed two or three years ago.”

The campaign’s tag line, “The Clothes I Wear,” is intended to convey a popular message.

“These are the clothes America wears,” Ruzow said. “It’s not something that is aspirational. It’s not something that goes down the red carpet. It’s what you wear every day, to work, to shop, to take care of the kids, to play.”

In addition to the brand’s sportswear, dresses and suits, the marketing also features licensed products, such as handbags, eyewear and shoes.

The campaign, put together by Laspata Decaro, is expected to run in an array of women’s magazines beginning with March issues, as well as outdoors on some bus stops and billboards. There will also be a vacation sweepstakes where the brand can glean some information from its consumers. Some trade advertising will begin next week.

Kellwood’s major retail customers will be offered in-store visuals to help drive interest at retail.

Ruzow said a lot of consumers still identify Sag Harbor with the classic wool jacket. The new ads, though, work to communicate updated looks from the brand, such as a jacket with three-quarter-length sleeves paired with pinstripe pants.

This story first appeared in the August 25, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The ad campaign — along with similar branding efforts from O Oscar, a new brand produced under license by Kellwood, and Bandolino from Jones — signals a change in the moderate business.

“The business model in moderate never supported advertising, but that’s changing now,” Ruzow said.

Larger vendors such as Kellwood have worked to leverage their size to fund marketing and strengthen their brands.

“Hopefully, the advertising will drive more full-price retail [sales]. That’s where the payoff will come,” Ruzow said.

Taking a new approach with an established brand can be an “uphill battle,” he noted.

“The brand really has the potential to be a billion-dollar brand, and we think this is a very important step in getting it there,” Ruzow said. “I don’t think a brand gets tired to the point of extinction, unless you, by neglect, make that happen. A brand will die if you leave it alone. We’re not going to let that happen. This is the rounding out. We’ve done all the hard lifting.”

View Slideshow