NEW YORK — It doesn’t take much to get tongues wagging in the fashion world.

When some of the industry’s best-known names launched or relaunched better lines in a stampede last year, the rhetoric was as heady as the challenges facing many of them.

An air of new opportunity pervaded the business, for opening up brand umbrellas as well as ringing up additional sales. There was also a hint of a dressier look that, in addition to costing more, meant more put-together fashions.

Now those lines are starting to hit the sales floors, where consumers will ultimately vote on them by passing them by or opening their pocketbooks.

Here’s a sampling of some of the thoughts expressed by executives and designers that helped bring this year’s better crop into existence.

— E.C.

“Number one: We have a jump on all of them. Number two: We are younger and a bit cooler than the rest of them. And three: We’ve tested the merchandise already.” — Tommy Hilfiger, Aug. 11

“We’re trying to get out of our own box. We are a big corporation and we have to get out of our way. We have to test and try new things. There are a lot of things that are not working for us and they’re not working for our retail partners.” — Angela Ahrendts, Liz Claiborne Inc., Aug. 27

“Let’s cut to the chase: It doesn’t matter what your pocketbook is, everyone wants to look thin and rich.” — Michael Kors, Sept. 4

“Don’t forget, I was there first. I was there 10 years ago and built a very good business. I never liked the bridge business. I never liked it [or] understood it. This is where the audience was. The better business was where the woman was needing the value. The bridge business was expensive and didn’t have the point of view.” — Ralph Lauren, Sept. 8

“We have enormous brand equity that, as a company, we underinvested in and we’re dramatically changing that, and I think overinvesting over the next couple of years.” — Peter Boneparth, Jones Apparel Group, Sept. 9“These pieces are what I believe women’s sportswear should be — it is a well-balanced, well-designed collection that sacrifices nothing in terms of design, fit or fabric.” — Calvin Klein, Nov. 3

“The business is changing so rapidly today, it can’t be business as usual. You have to fight the war a different way.” — Stephen Ruzow, Kellwood Co., Nov. 3

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