By  on September 4, 2008

Jennifer Lopez’s Sweetface Fashion Co. is going back to the drawing board yet again.

The company has closed the justsweet junior brand, hired a new designer and is relaunching JLO by Jennifer Lopez in the U.S. with the hope of jump-starting its struggling business in the sector. Sweetface isn’t even launching JLO with wholesale, instead going direct to e-tailing in America, which will be the exclusive channel for the brand for the foreseeable future.

The moves also will refocus attention on Lopez being behind the label at a time when the brand has lost serious ground to newer entrants in celebrity fashion.

“The JLO brand has been tried-and-true for us and with the economy in the shape it is in the U.S., we decided it would be best to focus on what is working — the JLO brand,” claimed Gina Rizzo, vice president of creative at Sweetface Fashion Co. “The brand has been doing so well internationally and consumers relate to it so well, so we want to put our focus back into the brand and bring it back to the U.S.”

The JLO by Jennifer Lopez brand, which first launched in 2001, is now sold in over nine countries, with licensed product — including accessories and fragrance ­— in over 40 countries. The revamped Web site,, will relaunch in March 2009 and will be the exclusive retail outlet for the label in the U.S.

“We plan to eventually open up the line to wholesale in the U.S., but we were doing so well with the brand online, so that’s where we want to be for now,” Rizzo said.

While the JLO brand is traditionally more casual and street-oriented than justsweet, company executives expect the JLO brand to turn a bit more ladylike with a European fashion influence. At the time of the launch for justsweet, Andrea Scoli, president of Sweetface Fashion Co., said she expected it to bring in upward of $10 million in wholesale volume for the first year at retail, but the label apparently failed to live up to expectations. As of now, justsweet is sold in 100 specialty stores nationwide. Holiday deliveries of the justsweet brand will be its last season.

To help relaunch the JLO brand in the U.S., the firm has hired Albino Riganello as vice president of design. In this role, Riganello will work alongside Rizzo and is responsible for all aspects of the design of the JLO junior and Sweetface contemporary apparel brands.

Riganello joins the firm with over 10 years of experience in design, most recently as design director at L.A.M.B., one of the brands that has been outperforming Sweetface at retail. Prior to that, he worked in creative positions at Dolce & Gabbana, Alessandro Dell’Acqua and Elie Tahari.

“Albino has great experience with international markets and, as we focus on our business abroad, he seemed to be the perfect fit for us and where we are going,” Rizzo said.

Riganello replaced Sophie Na, the firm’s former vice president of design, who left earlier this summer to pursue other interests. Na had been with the company since 2002. Riganello reports to Scoli.

Currently, there are 17 freestanding JLO stores in Russia and former Soviet Union countries, eight in Greece and, by the end of this year, there will be 13 more freestanding JLO stores throughout those regions. In addition, Sweetface partnered with Yamamay last fall to launch the JLO by Jennifer Lopez for Yamamay lingerie and swimwear collection, which is currently distributed in over 600 stores internationally.

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