By  on February 10, 2009

In a testament to the redefinition of bridge, the iconic old-guard bridge brand Ellen Tracy is shedding its suited, oft-theatrical skin in favor of a more modern line for fall.


Under new ownership (Fashionology LLC), new leadership (Mark Mendelson) and new creative direction (Susanne Klevorick), the $100 million brand appears poised to sit on the redesigned bridge floors of today, filled with new-guard lines such as Elie Tahari and Tory Burch.

Mendelson, president and chief executive officer of Fashionology and Ellen Tracy, said the new Ellen Tracy is targeting two consumers, in addition to the brand’s historic customer: the contemporary customer who has outgrown that department, and the designer customer who is trading down in this economy.

“These women are being completely underserved,” Mendelson said. “Philosophically, I believe this market is so untapped. These customers are walking around everywhere, wondering why no one wants their money.”

The company has changed three key elements of the brand, namely:

• Key items v. deliveries: “Each delivery [previously] had a color story, and the new delivery killed the old delivery,” said Mendelson. “It was a self-fulfilling prophecy of death.” Instead of each delivery having a dramatically different look, Klevorick said the focus is on key items with a “flow of color, so nothing becomes dead on the floor.” In showing the clothes, Mendelson said he embraces the mixing of deliveries and even the mixing of Ellen Tracy with other designers because “that’s how women dress.”

• The fit: For fall, the brand is introducing 14 pant styles in sizes 0 to 18. It has kept the iconic “Linda” fit and the former fit model but also has added new silhouettes based on a modern fit and a second slightly less curvy fit model. Both models try on every sample to get a better idea of fit (a practice the brand had years ago). “A second model is a great checkpoint,” Klevorick said.

• The price-value relationship: The brand dropped its average prices by 20 to 25 percent, passing on lowered sourcing and overhead costs.

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