By  on January 15, 2009

Seeking to ramp up its women’s business to a full lifestyle brand, Izod is launching women’s career and denim categories for fall 2009.

Since bringing the Izod women’s license back in-house from Kellwood Co. for fall 2007, Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. has called the moderate brand’s women’s business “a huge growth vehicle.” Izod women’s president Cheryl Dapolito is working to make the division bigger than the men’s, turning the current 60:40 ratio on its head.

“Women’s seems very underdeveloped and should honestly be bigger than men’s,” said Dapolito, who joined Izod in December 2006 soon after PVH brought Izod in-house. “We had an incredible 2008. We find customers are voting for brands and value more than ever.”

The brand, which wholesales from $10 to $20, does more than $1 billion in retail volume in men’s and women’s combined, and the women’s line is carried in about 1,800 doors, including Belk, Bon-Ton’s and J.C. Penney.

With the two new launches and the emphasis on value during the recession, Dapolito expects positive growth for Izod women’s in 2009, along with 20-plus percent growth the brand has experienced since it was brought back in-house.

The expansion of the top-based casual business into bottoms and career are steps on the way to creating a full lifestyle brand, Dapolito said.

“We addressed her needs two days a week, but what happens the other five days?” she said.

So Izod Women’s launched its “Silver Crest” career line — the name plays on the laurel leaf in its icon. The line of soft separate tops, such as patterned woven blouses and knit cardigans, and men’s wear-inspired bottoms, like pinstripe pants, wholesales from about $11 to $22, up to $50 for its novelty jackets. Dapolito said she expects a third, or about 600, of Izod’s retail accounts to pick up the career collection.

To balance its top-driven business, Izod added a full denim line, with four fits, four washes and corduroy versions, to expand on its previously token denim offerings. The jeans, which wholesale for $15, feature stretch pockets that serve as tummy control panels. Dapolito predicted the denim business would soon make up 30 percent of the casual business.

Before joining Izod, Dapolito worked in the better market as vice president of sales of the Lauren line at Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., and as vice president and general manager of Sigrid Olsen at Liz Claiborne Inc. She argued that Izod was positioned pricewise as “upper moderate, but it could go head to head with better.

“The moderate zone is largely private label, and we offer a national brand with national advertising,” Dapolito said, adding she expects the advertising budget will hold steady in 2009. “Our colors are happier than we’ve ever made them before — we want her to be optimistic, which, combined with value, is what women want in these times.”�

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