WHAT'S IN A NAME? Judging by the top five brands in the 2003 WWD100, plenty. Timex, L'eggs, Nike and not one, but two Hanes brands have been part of the collective vocabulary of American consumers for decades. Within the top 10 come three names recognized worldwide for their interpretations of that uniquely American contribution to style, casual chic: Calvin Klein, Old Navy and Gap.

In what's undoubtedly the toughest retail climate since the WWD100 began publishing 10 years ago, it's more important than ever for brands to stake out their own territory in consumers' minds. Many on the list - from Fossil to Polo Ralph Lauren - are hoping that their all-American appeal will translate into profits abroad.

Another strategy WWD100 listers are increasingly relying on is the celebrity connection. Turning to boldfaced names to boost their own was a tactic embraced by the usual designer suspects such as Gucci, as well as less-expected brands like Liz Claiborne, which is launching a campaign featuring Vendela, photographed romping with her family in the Bahamas.

And in the increasingly crowded marketplace, brands like Izod, Danskin and jeansmaker Mudd are pushing more and more beyond their traditional boundaries in order to be worthy of that magic buzzword, lifestyle.

It's a vital move. For, as the WWD100 exhibits, brands continually fight against extinction as newcomers pop up. As consumers become more time pressured, brands are constantly striving for a nanosecond of their attention and, hopefully, their dollars will follow. In a world where consumers eagerly shop Wal-Mart and eBay, Neiman Marcus and Target, Amazon and PacSun, companies need more than ever to follow Hollywood's adage: It's all about the profile.

Here, a listing of the most-recognizable brands in fashion - the winners of the name game.

WHAT’S IN A NAME? Judging by the top five brands in the 2003 WWD100, plenty. Timex, L’eggs, Nike and not one, but two Hanes brands have been part of the collective vocabulary of American consumers for decades. Within the top 10 come three names recognized worldwide for their interpretations of that uniquely American contribution to style, casual chic: Calvin Klein, Old Navy and Gap.In what’s undoubtedly the toughest retail climate since the WWD100 began publishing 10 years ago, it’s more important than ever for brands to stake out their own territory in consumers’ minds. Many on the list — from Fossil to Polo Ralph Lauren — are hoping that their all-American appeal will translate into profits abroad.

Another strategy WWD100 listers are increasingly relying on is the celebrity connection. Turning to boldfaced names to boost their own was a tactic embraced by the usual designer suspects such as Gucci, as well as less-expected brands like Liz Claiborne, which is launching a campaign featuring Vendela, photographed romping with her family in the Bahamas.

And in the increasingly crowded marketplace, brands like Izod, Danskin and jeansmaker Mudd are pushing more and more beyond their traditional boundaries in order to be worthy of that magic buzzword, lifestyle.

It’s a vital move. For, as the WWD100 exhibits, brands continually fight against extinction as newcomers pop up. As consumers become more time pressured, brands are constantly striving for a nanosecond of their attention and, hopefully, their dollars will follow. In a world where consumers eagerly shop Wal-Mart and eBay, Neiman Marcus and Target, Amazon and PacSun, companies need more than ever to follow Hollywood’s adage: It’s all about the profile.

Here, a listing of the most-recognizable brands in fashion — the winners of the name game.

Product: Hosiery, enhancewear.
Volume: $340 million (est. at retail).
Owner: Sara Lee Corp., Chicago.
While Hanes continues to be the hosiery market leader in department and specialty stores, it is not immune to the legwear market’s ongoing challenges. When Sara Lee posted its third quarter earnings in May, it reported a three percent drop in divisional unit sales principally because of a 13 percent drop in sheer hosiery units and a 10 percent drop in legwear sales.

But Hanes is looking to make up for the loss in sheers sales with innovations. Case in point: Hanes Body Enhancers No Hose, a lightweight collection of figure-enhancing products launched last fall with flexible construction and non-binding features. For fall, the company is adding to its Hanes Silk Reflections line, an anticellulite control top, with anticellulite microbeads continuously releasing natural firming ingredients.
Product: Legwear
Volume: $370 million (est. at retail).
Owner: Sara Lee Corp., Chicago.
Like many other hosiery firms, L’eggs’ growth rate has slowed down as a result of sluggish sales in sheers, and the recent woes at Kmart — a major distributor of the brand — have been an extra challenge to business.But L’eggs is not resting on its toes. The company is trying to make up for the loss in the sheers business by offering women summer legwear solutions: A bare leg look with added shaping benefits. Last summer, the brand introduced L’eggs Body Beautiful No Hose, which offers women a control top with a bare leg to shape a woman’s figure with no panty lines. This is available in a long-leg capri, control brief, mid-thigh waist-cincher and control slip. The No Hose launch has been supported by an extensive marketing campaign, which includes in-store demonstrators at Wal-Mart, Rite Aid, K-Mart and CVS.
Product: Bras, underwear, sports bras, casualwear, socks, casual shoes.
Volume: $1.5 billion (est. excluding private label).
Owner: Sara Lee Corp., Chicago.
Since it landed on the innerwear radar in 1986 with panties, Hanes Her Way has expanded to include the shapewear collection Hanes Her Way Enhancers, as well as a line of seamless intimates aimed at younger consumers called Hanes Her Way Body Creations. Sara Lee this spring launched Hanes Her Way Pure Bliss, a spa-inspired collection currently consisting of camis and panties. The line soon will expand to include bras, panties, sleepwear, socks and casualwear.With an annual advertising budget estimated to be more than $40 million, it comes as no surprise Hanes Her Way is familiar to many U.S. consumers. Overall, media advertising and spending for Sara Lee Intimate Apparel’s key intimate and underwear brands surged 18 percent in the quarter ended Dec. 28, 2002.
Product: Watches, clocks.
Volume: $600 million (est.).
Owner: Timex Corp., Middlebury, Conn.
Timex continues to meld fashion and technology with trendy-looking pieces that feature the latest in high tech gadgetry. The Ironman Data Link USB, for example, comes with software that enables a user to download from a computer telephone numbers, appointments, schedules and other information. Another techno-savvy piece is the TMX2 Mp3 System, which at just over two inches long and about 1.5 inches wide, features an Mp3 player and is capable of storing various types of computer documents. Timex is also busily working to increase the design quotient of its pieces. Materials such as stainless steel and leather are increasingly being incorporated into pieces, and this year, an advertising campaign showcasing the company’s new design direction will debut.
Product: Activewear, athletic footwear, accessories, sporting goods, personal electronics.
Volume: $9.89 billion
Owner: Nike Inc., Beaverton, Ore.
As part of its quest to morph into more of a lifestyle brand, the sneaker giant introduced yogawear, and acquired two brands: activewear maker Sphere and Hurley, a California-based surf-inspired line, last year. Last month Nike signed an unprecedented $90 million endorsement deal with high school hoops star LeBron James and a $1 million deal with 13-year-old soccer player Freddy Adu — two sure signs the company is trying to win points with tomorrow’s adults. The brand has also lightened up its image with a more feminine touch, thanks in part to Seventh Avenue veteran Mindy Grossman, vice president of global apparel. She is credited with adding more stylish touches to women’s apparel, which this year totaled $2.8 billion in global sales, and leading the charge to give NikeGoddess more of a boutique feel.
Product: Jeanswear.
Volume: $3.06 billion (excluding Dockers).
Owner: Levi Strauss & Co., San Francisco.
President and chief executive Phil Marineau has pledged that 2003 — which marks the company’s 150th anniversary — will be the end of Levi Strauss & Co.’s six-year sales slump. Observers contend that’s likely to happen for one key reason: The company this month plans to begin shipping a new, lower-priced line called Levi Strauss Signature to Wal-Mart Stores’ 2,800 U.S. locations. The new brand, which will not feature Levi’s trademarks like the Red Tab or pocket arcuate, is expected to quickly reach the billion-dollar mark in annual revenues. But observers wonder what effect the appearance of the Levi’s brand at Wal-Mart will have on the company’s relationships with other retailers, particularly the national chains that are its key customers. Meanwhile, the company this year introduced Type One jeans, an exaggerated style incorporating brightly colored stitching and dark denim.
Product: Underwear, daywear, casualwear.
Volume: $1.2 billion (est.).
Owner: Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Omaha, Neb.
The iconic colorful logo that graces Fruit of the Loom’s innerwear basics has helped the brand retain its profile among the underwear- and T-shirt-buying public for 118 years.In December 1999 it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It emerged from bankruptcy on April 29, 2002, when FTL’s operating assets were acquired by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway for $830 million. Since then, the Bowling Green, Ky.-based brand — bolstered by a national print and TV advertising campaign of more than $30 million — has bounded back onto the innerwear scene with new lines. Its first thong collection launched last fall. At the same time, it also launched a fashion innerwear line. On tap for the summer is Fruit of the Loom Fit For Her, a line of plus-size underwear and related daywear.
Product: Casual apparel, accessories, children’s wear.
Volume: $5.8 billion (at retail).
Owner: Gap Inc., San Francisco.
Old Navy is considered the growth engine of Gap Inc., the largest specialty retailer in the U.S. And, as such, president Jenny Ming has more than one division riding on her shoulders. Ming’s primary objective for the 842-unit chain in 2003 includes increasing levels of customer service as well as simplifying in-store signage and merchandising the store by category. Other initiatives are to compete more effectively with discounters, respond faster to trends, expand product offerings and fine-tune fit.Old Navy has already made significant strides, according to Gap Inc. chief executive Paul Pressler. It has enjoyed a seven-month streak of positive same-store sales increases. Still, Old Navy is set to get leaner, closing stores to reduce square footage by a total of 2 percent in 2003.
Product: Designer sportswear, underwear, jeans, fragrance, accessories, home accessories, licensing, retail.
Volume: $46 million for in-house collection and accessories; with licenses totaling $3 billion at retail.
Owner: Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., New York.
Is it any wonder, given how much he’s been in the news recently, Calvin Klein is the highest-ranked designer brand on the list? And perhaps it’s only a fitting reward for having completed the sale of Calvin Klein Inc. in February to Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. for $438 million — plus royalties to Klein — after unsuccessful attempts before.Now that the sale is done, PVH and CKI management have lots of plans to build Klein’s volume significantly over the next few years. The production and sales of the designer collection were licensed to Vestimenta, while PVH is also building a men’s main-floor CK business in-house. A women’s better-priced license is in the works, which Bruce Klatsky, PVH’s chairman and chief executive, sees as another $1 billion opportunity for the brand.
10. GAP
Product: Apparel, accessories, personal care products, innerwear and children’s wear.
Volume: $6.8 billion (worldwide, at retail).
Owner: Gap Inc., San Francisco.
After sales limped along for two years as customers rejected too-trendy offerings, the Gap division finally appears to be returning to form. Going back to the khaki-friendly basics the chain is known for has lifted the core division’s same-store sales for seven straight months, following a 22-month slide. “We are seeing a tremendous amount of our customers coming back,” said chief executive Paul Pressler last month. But the jury is still out on whether Gap’s recovery is sustainable. Analysts attribute the chain’s winning streak to Millard “Mickey” Drexler, who left in September and now runs J. Crew Group, instead of his replacement, former Disney executive Pressler. They specifically question whether Gap will be able to maintain its promising growth in the second half.
Product: Bras, panties, daywear, sleepwear, at-homewear, robes, casualwear.
Volume: $3.59 billion ($2.65 billion at retail; $939 million direct).
Owner: Intimate Brands Inc., Columbus, Ohio.
It’s big, bold and beautiful. It’s Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie specialist that has its sights set on a global platform. A “powerful, sexy brand” that was successfully spun off from a small boutique identity some 20 years ago, Victoria’s Secret has demonstrated its ability to generate buzz through a number of factors: A slick media blitz fueled by events in glamorous locales such as Cannes during the resort town’s infamous film festival; a suggestive TV advertising campaign plugging items such as Very Sexy bras and panties, and risqué 30-second commercials during the Super Bowl.All of this hoopla — which is bankrolled by an estimated 5 percent to 7 percent of yearly revenues — is reinforced by a prolific mail-order business that reaches 390 million clients each year. Victoria’s Secret’s 1,014 stores average $581 in sales per square foot.
Product: Activewear, accessories.
Volume: $3.1 billion
Owner: Reebok International Ltd., Canton, Mass.
Like some of its competitors, Reebok has come to realize that being fashionable can in fact be a selling point. So can the odd celebrity association. Given both factors, the company has called upon high-voltage stars like Shakira, Jay-Z, Fabolous and Eve to help tout the brand, and teamed up with Foot Locker to sponsor the “Roc the Mic” hip-hop concert tour in three cities. In that same vein, Reebok paired with Diane Von Furstenberg to develop co-branded tenniswear that Venus Williams will wear at Wimbledon. On the retail front, Reebok has unveiled a prototypical store in New York City with fresh flowers, sleek furniture and newsy tidbits via electronic ticker tapes, giving its women’s offerings a backdrop that resembles a magazine layout instead of a sporting-goods store.
Product: Sportswear, jeanswear, athletic wear, children’s wear, accessories, footwear, fragrances, home furnishings.
Volume: $1.8 billion
Owner: Tommy Hilfiger Corp., Hong Kong.
Tommy Hilfiger Corp. finished what its chief executive termed this month as the most difficult year in its history as a special charge drove it to a loss of over $100 million. “The overall misses’ category has softened compared with a year ago as women continue to be conservative with their apparel spending, and accelerating markdown rates and highly promotional pricing are now the rule,” said chairman and ceo Joel Horowitz , who will remain as chairman but leave the ceo post when his contract is up next year.Hilfiger stepped down in February as chairman, but remains honorary chairman and principal designer.Over the past year, the firm’s ad campaigns have been given a facelift, with more sensual photography and the designer’s signature as a logo.
14. LEE
Product: Jeanswear, casual sportswear.
Volume: $950 million
Owner: VF Corp., Greensboro, N.C.
H.D. Lee Co. was founded in 1889 as a dry goods trading company, but it didn’t start manufacturing its own apparel until 1911, after founder Henry David Lee grew frustrated with the quality of workwear suppliers were selling him.
Today, the Lee family includes a number of sub-brands, including the Riveted by Lee line, a more fashionable collection for women, and the Lee Pipes and Lee Dungarees lines for teen boys. The brand’s strength has been in men’s, misses’ and girls’, but executives have increased their focus on the fickle junior jeans market in recent years, launching the Wish brand.
Lee, based in Merriam, Kan., has upped the edginess factor in its ads over the past few years, mainly through the series of spots featuring untoward things happening to the Buddy Lee doll.
Product: Activewear, athletic footwear, accessories, sporting goods.
Volume: $6.4 billion
Owner: Adidas-Salomon AG, Herzogonaurach, Germany.
Adidas has sprung onto the fashion scene, thanks to Gen Y’s interest in all things vintage and the success of Y-3, Yohji Yamamoto’s collection for the sneaker giant. But the company isn’t walking away from its sports heritage. Professional tennis player Justine Henin-Hardenne has joined the ranks of Anna Kournikova and Martina Hingis as one of the brand’s sponsored athletes. The company will also be an official backer of the Women’s World Cup soccer tournament this fall, being held in six U.S. cities. Chairman and chief executive Herbert Hainer has said Adidas is on track for net growth of 10 percent to 15 percent in 2003 on a five percent rise in sales. He also has his fingers crossed that British soccer supernova David Beckham, whom Adidas has a seven-figure endorsement deal with, will make the switch to Adidas-backed Real Madrid from Manchester United, sponsored by Nike.
Product: Legwear
Volume: $245 million (est.).
Owner: Golden Lady SpA, Mantova, Italy.
Hosiery, particularly with regard to sheers, remains a challenging category, but No Nonsense is holding its own and even growing its market share. The brand, one of the largest in legwear, has lately focused on building up its penetration in the mass channel in stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and Kmart, as well as in the food and drug arena.No Nonsense Women, a premium plus-sized brand that started shipping earlier this year, has been a particularly strong growth vehicle for the company. Socks are another focus for No Nonsense, especially in what the company feels are underdeveloped grocery-store channels. No Nonsense made its debut in the mid-1970s and is a division of Kayser-Roth, the giant legwear firm that was purchased by Italy’s Golden Lady SpA in 1999.
Product: Jeanswear, sportswear.
Volume: $583.1 million (65.9 percent retail, 27.4 percent wholesale, 6.7 percent licensing).
Owner: Guess Inc., Los Angeles.
Guess Inc.’s strong suit over the past year has been its chain of 246 company-owned retail stores, which executives said gives them better control over merchandise presentation and allows them to better showcase the full range of the Guess line. At the same time Guess’ wholesale business has suffered, with weak traffic at department stores taking a toll on demand and heavy markdowns starting to hurt margins. However, last year the company hired back former staffer Nancy Schactman as president of wholesale to get its wholesale business back on a solid footing.
The brothers who run the company, Maurice, Paul and Armand Marciano, shrank by one early last month when Armand, recently taken ill, resigned as senior executive and assistant secretary. But the company remains firmly in the hands of co-chairmen and ceos Maurice and Paul, who own a sizable chunk of Guess’ stock.
Product: Jeanswear
Volume: $1.5 billion
Owner: VF Corp., Greensboro, N.C.
One can learn a lot about the U.S. jeans market by observing Wrangler. The company’s styles don’t always get splashed across fashion layouts, but they do match up quite well with the purchasing preferences of the average American, as evidenced by the brand’s continued strong market share. After all, the average price paid in the U.S. for a pair of jeans is still in the $21-to-$24 range, according to STS Market Research in Cambridge, Mass. Wrangler, the largest-volume jeans brand in VF’s stable, remains the brand of choice for those who buy their jeans at mass merchants and chain stores and those who mainly look for something comfortable to wear on weekends or for rugged work.
Product: Apparel, licensed dresses, innerwear, outerwear, footwear, sleepwear, children’s wear, swimwear.
Volume: $1.6 million wholesale (est.).
Owner: Liz Claiborne Inc., New York.
Call it a case of the glass being half full. Though the Liz Claiborne label only accounted for 43 percent of the company’s total net sales of $3.7 billion in 2002, compared with 70 percent in 1997, chairman and ceo Paul Charron is convinced of the brand’s robust prospects. And with regard to the announcement that all 22 remaining freestanding Liz Claiborne stores in the U.S. would be shuttered, Charron maintained the Liz Claiborne consumer is well served by its 2,000 department store accounts. The company is trying to strike a more personal note with its spring advertising, which appears in magazines including Vogue, In Style, and Marie Claire. The campaign, shot in the Bahamas, features the Swedish supermodel Vendela mingling with her family and friends.
Product: Designer sportswear, jeanswear, fragrance, bridge and better sportswear, accessories, home furnishings, licensing, retail, media.
Volume: $10 billion at retail; (Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.’s net revenues for the year ending March 2003 were $2.44 billion).
Owner: Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., New York.
From the runway on down to the most basic Polo shirt, Ralph Lauren’s products lately seem to be winning over even the most jaded of Wall Street analysts. The latest innovations are Lauren’s product-driven Web site, Polo.com, which frequently offers groundbreaking items such as custom-fit Polo shirts, while the designer collections have merited some of the best reviews of his 36-year career.Still, there are problems. The company is now involved in a legal dispute with Jones Apparel Group, its licensee for the Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Ralph and Polo Jeans Co. brands with a combined volume of $1 billion. Polo is likely to take at least the Lauren and Ralph labels back in house by the end of the year.
Product: Watches and movements.
Volume: $876 million (est.).
Owner: Seiko Corp., Tokyo.
Since its founding in Japan in 1881 and introduction of its first wristwatch in that country in 1913, Seiko Corp. has symbolized technological innovation. In 1969 the company pioneered the world’s first quartz watch — which used a digital technology to provide unprecedented accuracy. In April, Seiko launched the latest models in its Arctura series using a patented Kinetic technology, which allows the watch to boast quartz digital accuracy without the use of batteries. Traditional automatic systems rely on the wearer’s body movements to swing a pendulum that winds the watch’s spring. While this eliminates the need for a battery, the analog movement is not as accurate as that of digital quartz movement. Seiko solved this problem with a tiny generator that powers the watch electronically.
21. L.L.BEAN
Product: Sportswear, outerwear, outdoor and travel gear, home furnishings.
Volume: $1.1 billion (at retail).
Owner: L.L. Bean Inc., Freeport, Maine.
After 91 years of business, L.L. Bean has stayed true to its legacy as one of the premier purveyors of outdoor apparel and gear. Over the last several years, the privately owned company has made a concerted effort to expand its retail business. It opened a store last year in Marlton, N.J., and this year, a store that specializes in hunting and fishing made its debut next to the 160,000-square-foot flagship in Freeport, Maine. L.L. Bean’s retail operations now include five stores and 15 factory stores with more doors in the works. L.L. Bean is expanding certain product categories, including its swimsuit collection and Boat and Totes bags. It also recently relaunched its Web site. The company has had to streamline its business by eliminating several hundred jobs over the past year, and last year it discontinued the Freeport Studio women’s apparel line.
Product: Full-support and average-figure bras, panties.
Volume: $850 million to $900 million
Owner: Sara Lee Corp., Chicago.
Brand recognition in all channels of distribution, innovative new products such as the Comfort Gel-Strap and hot-melt glue technology, and a whopping yearly budget of more than $35 million for TV and national print campaigns continue to keep the 71-year-old Playtex name ahead of the lingerie pack. Acquired by Sara Lee in 1991, the company is celebrating its 50th anniversary of TV advertising. The newest commercial focuses on Playtex’s Cross Your Heart franchise with this tag line: “Shape Your Destiny and We’ll Shape You.” Among the most revolutionary ideas to come out of Playtex research is a new “spacer” bra — a soft, ultralight bra rendered in a two-layer fabric that doesn’t yellow or shrink after washing. Another area being further developed is ultrasonic cut-and-seal technology, which creates a flexible skin-on-skin effect that makes bras less constricting.
Product: Bras, underwear, daywear, sleepwear, loungewear.
Volume: An estimated $120 million to $140 million (women’s underwear, daywear); $15 to $20 million (licensing).
Owner: Jockey International Inc.
Jockey has been a family-owned company for 127 years and, much to its competitors’ chagrin, is persistently tight-lipped about its strategies. But this underwear specialist is always ahead of the game, whether in creating the trademark union suit for men or launching a lifestyle campaign encompassing everything from bedding to loungewear. Today, the Jockey signature is seen on a highly successful line of bras and daywear bearing the Jockey label. Looking to expand its categories, Jockey signed a licensing agreement with Carole Hochman Designs Inc. to produce women’s sleepwear under the Jockey name, which was introduced last August and sells in more than 1,000 department store doors. One of Jockey’s biggest ongoing hits in the women’s arena since 2001 is a group of comfort-driven Tactel nylon panties called No Panty Line Promise. For 2003, modal rayon will be added to the mix.
Product: Sportswear, activewear, footwear, sleepwear, accessories, toys, retail.
Volume: $2.2 billion
Owner: The Walt Disney Co., Burbank, Calif.
Disney’s retail division may be scaling back, but that doesn’t mean consumers have grown tired of the likes of Mickey and Donald. Because of declining sales at the Disney Stores division, the company is in the process of decreasing the number of units worldwide to 300. Currently the company operates 550 stores. The division experienced another shakeup in April, when Disney Stores worldwide president Peter Whitford left the company and subsequently was named Wet Seal Inc.’s chief executive officer. The company’s strongest income in the consumer products division comes from its relationships with wholesale partners, which range from L.A. hipster haunt Fred Segal to mass retailing giant Wal-Mart. A company spokesman said Disney is looking into selling franchised stores in North America and in Europe, as it now does in Japan. “We really see our business in wholesale,” he said.
Product: Outerwear, sportswear, accessories, travel gear, home furnishings.
Volume: $1.42 billion
Owner: Spiegel Inc., Downers Grove, Ill.
Eddie Bauer is heading back to the great outdoors. After attempting to deviate from its outdoor-adventure roots and move into career and evening apparel — with unsuccessful results — the 83-year-old company is now seeking to reclaim its niche. Financially troubled Spiegel, meanwhile, is said to be shopping the Bauer division.To support its outdoorsy image, the company last fall unveiled a multimedia advertising campaign that featured its wares photographed in vast outdoor spaces. Eddie Bauer has also revamped its apparel mix, including increasing the number of pieces in the Seattle Suede collection, a line of washable leather jackets, coats and skirts, that debuted last year. Also part of brand’s makeover is a line of knits intended to support the denim business that hearkens back to its image as an active, outdoor apparel manufacturer.
Product: Sportswear, accessories, outerwear, innerwear, hosiery, licensing.
Volume: $550 million
Owner: Levi Strauss & Co., San Francisco.
The Dockers brand has grown substantially since Levi’s founded it in 1986, as a solid pairing with its jeans operation.
Its offerings today have been enhanced with features like DuPont’s Teflon Fabric Protector and Burlington’s Nano-Care stain resistance, touted in an ongoing TV ad campaign featuring spill-prone actors. This year, the latest innovation is the Individual Fit Waistband technology, which can expand waistbands by 2 inches sans elastic and turns up in the cotton-polyester “Metro Pant.” Dockers has also added more fashion to its mix. The women’s apparel collection includes more stretch fabrics, more colors and novelty tops, and pants with flat-front and bootleg detailing.
Product: Sportswear, outerwear, accessories.
Volume: $1.57 billion
Owner: Sears Roebuck & Co., Hoffman Estates, Ill.; Lands’ End headquarters: Dodgeville, Wis.
With sales of Sears’ “softer side” sagging, chief executive officer Alan Lacy took the bold step of acquiring catalog and Internet retailer Lands’ End last June for $1.9 billion. The idea was to give Sears exclusive access to a quality brand and improve the retailer’s overall apparel offering. Lands’ End, meanwhile, would gain access to a much broader customer base while continuing to sell through its catalog and online channels.Lands’ End products for men, women, children and the home have been bowing in selected doors since June and will be in all 870 full-line Sears stores by fall. Both companies declined to project sales for Lands’ End at Sears.So far the gambit appears to be working. Sears attributed an increase in fourth-quarter earnings to the Lands’ End acquisition. Revenues were $12.5 billion, up 2.4 percent from $12.2 billion a year earlier.
Product: Rainwear, outerwear, accessories.
Volume: $200 million
Owner: London Fog Industries, Inc., Seattle.
Two years after emerging from Chapter 11, London Fog is making aggressive plans to capitalize on its strong name-brand recognition and popularity at retail. It’s freshening up its collection with fur lining, body-conscious silhouettes and casual street styles — all while still satisfying its core customers seeking a venerable London Fog trenchcoat.In a bid to further grow through a vertical operational structure, the company, led by president and chief executive officer William Dragon Jr., announced in June that it is splitting into three divisions that will be managed as independent businesses: Pacific Trail, London Fog Trade and London Fog Factory Outlet Stores. London Fog updated its advertising campaign last year, dubbing it the “Global Style” campaign. The ads — shot across the world — include images of wine tasting in Tuscany and walks in the country.
Product: Footwear, apparel, accessories.
Volume: $882.3 million
Owner: Jones Apparel Group Inc., Bristol, Pa.
With hundreds of retail outlets across the U.S., the Nine West moniker is a familiar sight to footwear fiends looking for ankle wraps, sandals, slides and flip-flops.Over the past year, Nine West has been busily updating its stores and its marketing initiatives. In April, for example, it opened an 1,800-square-foot store near Herald Square in Manhattan with a decor consisting of exposed brick walls and hardwood floors. Forty Nine West and Easy Spirit stores are slated for updates this year.On the marketing front, Nine West in the spring teamed up with Lucky magazine to produce a guide — highlighting Nine West’s spring-summer styles — that was included in May issues of Lucky distributed in California and Nevada. The Nine West Group in the fall will launch at retail Bandolino, a sportswear line.
Product: Swimwear, activewear, accessories.
Volume: $235 million (North American only).
Owner: The Warnaco Group Inc., New York, under license from Speedo International Ltd.
Founded in 1928 on Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, Speedo celebrates its 75th anniversary this year as the world’s top-selling swimwear brand. Today, Los Angeles-based Speedo continues to be the leader in competitive swimwear, and is expanding its fashion offerings in activewear, men’s, boys’ and girls’ swimwear. Accessories is the fastest-growing category, with new products including a waterproof Mp3 player and an expanded footwear collection. Product is sold in the 44 Speedo/Authentic stores and in 13,000 retail doors throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. New offerings include women’s reversible swimwear, and the company’s first string bikini, set to debut in 2004. To date, more Olympic gold medals have been won in Speedo apparel than any other brand. Speedo’s stable of top swimmers includes Jenny Thompson and Lenny Krayzelburg.
Product: Couture, ready-to-wear, fragrances, cosmetics, accessories.
Volume: $2 billion (est. combined fashion and fragrance sales).
Owner: The Wertheimer family, Paris.
Founded by Coco Chanel in 1914, the house insists on looking to the future rather than dwelling on its prodigious past. Attribute that attitude to its designer, Karl Lagerfeld, who has been at the creative helm for more than 20 years. “I bleach my past,” said Lagerfeld recently. “What’s important is now, whatever it was we achieved.” His updated Chanel tweeds, including those he showed for fall, are a hit with the girls. To wit: A trunk show last spring at Bergdorf Goodman featuring Lagerfeld’s fall collection set a record for the store — and the city — bringing in a tally of $3.1 million. In the fall, Chanel will launch several new skin treatments, including five new cleansers in its Précision line, which industry sources estimate could do upward of $5 million at retail in their first year on counter.
Product: Athletic footwear and apparel.
Volume: $1.3 billion
Owner: James and Anne Davis, Boston.
Since 1972, when chairman and chief executive officer James Davis — who owns the company with his wife, Anne, the firm’s executive vice president of administration — purchased the small running shoe company, New Balance has diversified into apparel and broader shoe categories. Sales have climbed 136 percent in the last five years, in part because of an increase in the number of franchised stores (now totaling 99) and new products, including the N-ergy footwear line and the PF Flyers footwear brand purchased in 2001. About 15 more stores are slated to open by early 2004. New Balance’s 7-year-old apparel business is also on the upswing. Now a $27 million operation, apparel sales are expected to rise 30 percent in the next year, with women’s comprising 50 percent of the division within the next six months.
33. OP
Product: Apparel, swimwear, accessories, fragrance.
Volume: $200 million
Owner: Doyle & Boissiere, San Francisco.
The Ocean Pacific Apparel Corp. has picked up the pieces since it declared bankruptcy in 1991. Now under the direction of Richard Baker, the company has rebuilt itself and is a leader among the surf lifestyle-inspired brands.In 2001, Op brought its advertising in-house to integrate the marketing of its stable of brands, which includes Op Classic, a line of vintage-inspired surfwear, Seven 2 for action sports that launched this spring, and Ocean Pacific, the mainstay Op line that began in the early Eighties. The company has concentrated heavily on advertising in the past year, placing ads featuring Op-clad pro-surfers in magazines such as Maxim, YM and Teen Vogue. Moving forward, Op’s overall strategy is to round out its product offerings, with body boards, luggage, belts and small leather goods to be launched at retail this year in time for back-to-school and holiday.
Product: Sunglasses, eyeglasses.
Volume: $378.5 million
Owner: Luxottica Group SpA, Agordo, Italy.
Ray-Ban has been moving at a healthy clip since eyewear manufacturer Luxottica acquired it from Bausch & Lomb in 1999. The Italian conglomerate improved Ray-Ban’s distribution and quality, and infused the brand’s all-American feel with some fresh designs — and updates of the signature aviator and Wayfarer models. Last year, unit sales rose 9 percent to almost six million. That number is likely to rise sharply this year. In May, the company launched its first-ever eyeglasses collection, comprised of 43 designs that draw on the brand’s sun-friendly styles, such as acetate Wayfarers and aviators. It will be supported by a worldwide advertising campaign shot by French photographer Christopher Kutner.
Product: Sportswear, footwear, outerwear, accessories, swimwear, sleepwear.
Volume: $1.1 billion (including licensing).
Owner: Esprit Holdings Ltd., Hong Kong.
Though Esprit’s 35-year-old history hasn’t always been as sunny as the California lifestyle that continues to define it, the brand is anticipating better days ahead.Early last year, Esprit de Corp. sold its trademark rights in the U.S. and the Caribbean to Esprit Holdings Ltd., a Hong Kong-based, publicly traded firm. Much work has been done since Heinz Krogner, the owner of Esprit Holdings Ltd., chief executive officer and chairman for Europe and ceo of Esprit International in New York announced Esprit’s reentry into the U.S. market. Plans are under way to launch in-store boutiques in department stores and eventually open freestanding stores, which will carry the entire collection, which now includes men’s wear, women’s wear, junior’s, children’s wear and accessories.Macy’s West tested the brand at in-store boutiques in 17 of its stores before the roll-out to Macy’s West, Macy’s East, Dillard’s and Marshall Field’s, which will be in place for fall retailing. Esprit, whose U.S. headquarters are in Manhattan, has also signed several licenses over the past year: shoes and accessories with Jones Apparel Group’s Nine West division; outerwear through The Levy Group; children’s wear by Adjmi; swimwear with Beach Patrol, and loungewear by Carole Hochman.
Product: Bras, panties, shapewear.
Volume: $150 million
Owner: Oaktree Capital Management, a private investment firm, New York.
Maidenform first surfaced in 1922 as a dress and bandeau bra maker called Enid Frocks and was renamed Maidenform Brassiere Co. in 1930. Known as the grande dame of the bra business, it’s survived a decade of mergers and acquisitions, as well as a Chapter 11 bankruptcy ordeal from which it emerged in July 1999. In May 2003, Maidenform said it had completed a new three-year secured $60 million revolving line of credit with Congress Financial Corp. With this cash infusion, Maidenform continues to reinvent itself with creative new products such as the new I Value Luxury collection of value-priced bras for department store distribution. The company will spend between $6 million and $7 million for a fourth-quarter ad campaign linking Maidenform’s rich history of “I Dreamed...” ads of the Fifties with present-day lifestyle images.
Product: Watches, consumer electronics.
Volume: $1.2 billion (est.).
Owner: Casio Computer Co. Ltd., Tokyo.
Tough technology is the hallmark of Casio, whose latest technological wonder is the addition of a series of virtually indestructible solar-powered Atomic Time-keeping watches to the G-Shock series. The watches, which are solar-powered, receive daily calibrated signals from the official Atomic Clock in Fort Collins, Colo. Some models are capable of storing phone numbers, and are water resistant to depths of 200 meters. Casio is also active in the world of fashion. It promoted, for example, its new Exilim digital camera by sponsoring designer Alvin Valley’s fall 2003 show during New York fashion week in February. Casio is also strategically utilizing its annual $5 million advertising budget to promote lifestyle-oriented products, including the G-Shock watches, to younger women through a new television ad campaign.
Product: Bras, panties, shapewear, sleepwear.
Volume: $120 million (est.).
Owner: VF Corp., Greensboro, N.C.
The decades-old Vanity Fair name is one of the most memorable intimate apparel brands, with a presence in more than 3,000 doors. With an array of fashion and basic products in foundations, daywear and a licensed line of robes and sleepwear produced by Jaclyn Apparel Inc. of New York, Vanity Fair has maintained a multigenerational appeal. The sleepwear line will be distributed to department stores this fall, with projected first-year sales of $3 million, according to industry estimates. Introduced for spring is a collection of three softly brushed microfiber bras — an average underwire style, an average contour underwire number and a full-figure bra — called Soft Effects. For fall, Vanity Fair will launch three matte-and-shine floral jacquard bras in a collection called Secret Luxury. Wiseman said VF is looking to grab a bigger share of the intimate apparel business by focusing on global growth, identifying and marketing to consumer groups and leveraging technology for growth in all channels of distribution.
Product: Bridge sportswear, better sportswear, accessories, retail, licensing.
Volume: $400 million ($100 million wholesale, $300 million licensing.).
Owner: Kasper ASL, New York.
Will this be the year Anne Klein finally roars back to life? In the plus column, it returned to big runway shows for its Anne Klein New York label, opened a store in SoHo last year and another in East Hampton, N.Y., in April, and rebuilt the better business as AK Anne Klein. The company has more than doubled its overall Anne Klein volume in two years. On the minus side: Charles Nolan, the designer who helped drive the brand’s turnaround, abruptly quit this spring to join the presidential campaign of Howard Dean. Go figure.Regardless, any forthcoming big news at Anne Klein is bound to relate to its ownership. Since its parent company of four years, Kasper ASL, has been operating under a prepackaged bankruptcy plan for the past year, a number of suitors are now vying to buy the company and its trademarks.
Product: Watches, apparel, accessories.
Volume: $125 million (excluding licensing).
Owner: Victorinox AG, Ibach-Schwyz, Switzerland.
Swiss Army Brands Inc. is carving a niche for itself beyond its famed pocket knives, with watches, sunglasses and apparel. The Shelton, Conn.-based company was snatched up in August 2002 by Victorinox, which already owned two-thirds of the company. Shortly after the acquisition, Susanne Rechner was promoted to president from senior vice president of global watches for Swiss Army Brands, and is charged with the task of strategically growing apparel.The Victorinox men’s apparel line remains a key focus for 2003. Now in its fifth season, it’s a blend of sportswear and technical apparel with an understated style. After a licensing agreement with Tropical Sportswear International Corp. terminated in January, Swiss Army assumed all design, sourcing, sales, marketing and distribution responsibilities for the clothing line.
Product: Underwear, daywear, sleepwear, accessories, bedding.
Volume: $100 million (est.).
Owner: Windsong Allegiance Group, LLC., Westport, Conn.
The wild and crazy persona of Nick Graham, founder and creator of Joe Boxer, has persevered throughout its 18-year fashion odyssey.Renowned for his publicity antics — such as a Viking-inspired media junket to Reykjavik, Iceland — Graham appeared to to be invincible. But in April 2001, the $100 million dollar company was sold to Windsong Allegiance, after Joe Boxer encountered a financial squeeze, in part stemming from a bitter lawsuit by a former licensee, Van Mar. Industry insiders said Graham had OD’d on publicity stunts and licensing deals, but Graham held onto an equity stake in the company. Last August, Kmart seized distribution control of Joe Boxer away from department stores, with the goal of building customer loyalty and increasing shopping frequency with exclusive brands like Joe Boxer — a goal which remains hazy, given the discounter’s recent emergence from bankruptcy.
Product: Jewelry and watches, fine china, fragrance, crystal, sterling silver.
Volume: $1.71 billion (at retail).
Owner: Tiffany & Co., New York.
With about 137 stores worldwide, including 50 in the U.S., the reach of one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious jewelry and luxury goods companies continues to grow both in the U.S. and abroad. Although Tiffany has seen sales slump in Japan, business in the U.S. and other regions has maintained momentum. Sales in the fourth quarter rose 9.4 percent to $619 million, while earnings grew 7.9 percent to $89.3 million, or 60 cents a share.The company is continuing to build its watch business — representing just 3 to 4 percent of sales —beginning with June’s debut of its new Tiffany Mark collection, inspired by its 19th-century pocket watches and will carry on via more new collections and revamps of its Atlas and Tesoro lines. On another front, Tiffany has returned to the fragrance market with Pure Tiffany, its first scent in two years, with expected first-year sales of $3 million.
43. DKNY
Product: Bridge and better sportswear, jeans, retail, fragrance, home furnishings, licensing.
Volume: Global retail sales of all products, including licenses, is in excess of $2 billion, with the bulk coming from DKNY.
Owner: LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Paris.
Serving as the major volume vehicle for Donna Karan International has had its advantages for the 13-year-old diffusion brand, but also has had its bumps. DKNY grew so quickly through licensing that the vast and sometimes confusing amount of product that ensued started to erode the overall image of the brand in the late Nineties.Things are starting to change, however, since LVMH acquired DKI and its trademarks in 2001. Fred Wilson, who became chief executive officer of the company a year later, brought back Donna Karan veteran Mary Wangin October as president of DKNY during a corporate restructuring that emphasized brand, not division. The duo has quickly spruced up the image of the bridge collection, slashing a third of its stockkeeping units and cutting the number of doors where it is sold by 20 percent, as well as better coordinating brand image with the licensees.
44. BALI
Product: Bras, panties.
Volume: $600 million (est.).
Owner: Sara Lee Corp., Chicago.
Having a Bali experience may sound exotic, but it actually requires little more than a trip to the lingerie department of practically any department store. Sizing up Bali’s presence at retail, Charles Nesbit, president and chief executive officer of Sara Lee Intimate Apparel, said Bali bras and panties each claim a 28 percent share of the branded marketplace. He noted that 11 of the top-selling 20 bras representing all styles in the branded arena at department stores belong to Bali. The Bali brand is broadening its 35-to-54 year-old consumer base with fashion colors and styling, soft, feel-good microfibers, and ideas gleaned from Sara Lee’s immense R&D laboratory. Among the brand’s innovations for spring is Sheer Power by Bali, a featherlight shaper that gives firm control. There’s also a national print campaign for the new Bali Fusion shapewear scheduled for summer, photographed by Richard Avedon on model Naomi Campbell.
Product: Watches, clocks, eyewear.
Volume: $160 million (including all brands and licenses).
Owner: Loews Corp., New York.
Bulova has come a long way since Joseph Bulova, a 23-year-old Czech immigrant, opened a small jewelry shop in lower Manhattan, circa 1875. Today, Bulova owns the trademarks for the luxury watch brand Wittnauer, as well as the license for Harley-Davidson watches. And last fall, Bulova acquired Heirloom, a maker of grandfather clocks that operates under the name Art of Time Ltd. From 2001 to 2002, Bulova’s net sales increased by 14.4 percent and the company expects the rises to continue, in part because it has been reclaiming control of development and marketing overseas. After its European licensing arrangement with EganaGoldpfeil (Holdings) Ltd. expired last year, Bulova opened new European headquarters in Fribourg, Switzerland, to oversee European sales, marketing and distribution.
Product: Jeanswear
Volume: $900 million (at retail).
Owner: J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Plano, Tex.
J.C. Penney relies on Arizona Jean Co. to lure style-conscious, denim-hungry teens and early twentysomethings to its stores. The retailer over the past year has slimmed down the brand’s assortment, focusing on a core range of affordably-priced denim-driven styles. J.C. Penney has also pulled back on categories it had extended into over the brand’s 15-year lifespan, including footwear and sleepwear. Arizona Jean Co.’s offerings reflect current denim trends, such as cross-hatch denim jeans in flared and boot-cut silhouettes. The line includes men’s and women’s merchandise, and is available at Penney’s 1,045 stores, as well as on its Web site, jcpenney.com.
Product: Luxury ready-to-wear, leather goods, accessories, cosmetics.
Volume: $1.82 billion
Owner: 63.7 percent by PPR; the remainder is publicly traded on the NYSE and Euronext Amsterdam.
Season after season, Gucci creative director Tom Ford delivers audacious and sexy collections — no wonder the brand continues to generate major buzz as a top pick of fashion icon Nicole Kidman and other Hollywood best-dressers.Ford is also responsible for the new lookof the second-generation Gucci stores: an ode to glass, chrome and glossy lacquer.Together with designer William Sofield, Ford last year renovated flagships in New York, Paris, Milan and London. Gucci continues to expand — it’s launching a home furnishings line,complete with furniture, this fall. Last year, Gucci added five new stores, in locations as diverse as St. Mortiz and San Jose, Calif., bringing its total to 174 directly operated stores.
Product: Activewear, dancewear.
Volume: $100 million (est., including licensing).
Owner: Danskin Inc., New York.
In recent years, Danskin has moved beyond dance studios and gyms and onto the streets, launchinglifestyle collections featuring cotton and stretch cotton-based tops and bottoms that combine casual loungewear aesthetics with hip silhouettes.The Zen Sport collection, introduced in 2000, helped heighten Danskin’s department store presence. Department store sales have grown by over 35 percent since last year, an increase Danskin president and ceo Carol Hochman said is due chiefly to the acceptance of casual loungewear as “everyday wear.”New for Danskin this summer is Mogi, a line nicknamed for the company’s signature “motion girl” trademark. The bottom-driven grouping will feature versatile silhouettes in technical CoolMax and cotton-blend fabrics.
Product: Athletic footwear, accessories and apparel.
Volume: $188 million (at retail).
Owner: Converse Inc., North Andover, Mass.
Converse is looking to score this summer with an IPO aimed at capitalizing on the enormous appeal of its line of retro-cool footwear,as well as its accessories, men’s apparel and reportedly new women’s and children’s apparel within the next year. The public offering comes less than two years after the venerable company emerged from bankruptcy in a dramatic white-knight rescue by restructuring specialists Footwear Acquisition. Converse said it plans to launch a full line of new retro-style basketball shoes this year called Converse Re-Issue. New cross-training and running styles are on tap for 2004 and 2005.Converse has also partnered with Rem Eyewear to debut in the fall a dozen shades styled after the original Converse All Star, introduced in 1917.
Product: Designer ready-to-wear, licensing.
Volume: Collection: $15 million (est. wholesale); licensing: $700 million (est. at retail).
Owner: Bill Blass Ltd., New York.
It’s been a bumpy year for Bill Blass Ltd. Just one day after its fall 2003 show, the company dismissed creative director Lars Nilsson and design director Hervé Pierre Braillard. According to Michael Groveman, chief executive of Blass, the duo’s collections were well-received by the media, but lacked impact at retail.Several weeks after the decision, the company brought in veteran Michael Vollbracht as its new designer. Vollbracht, who had a signature ready-to-wear collection in the Eighties, is reentering the fashion industry with the Blass role and will make his design debut for the firm beginning with the resort and spring 2004 collections.The firm’s 40-plus licensing agreements range from luxury baby clothes to sleepwear and jeans. Added this year were licenses for sleepwear, loungewear, and new bridge, day, and evening dress lines.

To unlock this article, subscribe to WWD below.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus