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Hunter to Launch Outerwear

The brand is offering eight styles, including a trench with a zip-out red lining, a hooded white parka with fur trim and an A-line wool peacoat.

After convincing American women that colorful knee-length rainbow boots were more stylish than kindergartenlike, Hunter is diving into outerwear this fall.

This story first appeared in the March 16, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Given the 155-year-old Edinburgh-based company’s foothold in inclement weather, getting into jackets and coats was not such a reach. The brand got a major lift in 2009 when Kate Moss was photographed wearing a pair of Hunter boots with ultrashort shorts at the Glastonbury music festival.

For its latest fashion pursuit, Hunter is offering eight styles, including a trench with a zip-out red lining, a hooded white parka with fur trim and an A-line wool peacoat. Wendy Svarre, chief executive officer of Hunter Boot USA, said adding these extra layers was always part of the business strategy since she joined the brand two years ago.

“Outerwear was really a natural extension with the DNA of our brand. We are known for the outdoors and high-performance footwear,” she said. “It just took a while to find the right factories in Asia.”

In July, five major chains and 10 specialty stores are expected to carry the women’s collection, which will wholesale from $130 to $160. “What was most surprising to us is the stores really liked the wool pieces. We thought their buys would be more concentrated in the rainwear,” Svarre said. “What that says to me is that people see us as a fashion brand.”

Outerwear sales should account for 6 percent of the company’s total revenues this year, Svarre said. Men’s and children’s outerwear collections also are being introduced. To try to speak directly to customers and to build sales on the West Coast, where the brand is not so prevalent, Hunter will launch an e-commerce site in September. As things are, the Web site generates 150,000 hits each day.

The company also has a concept store in Manhattan’s Limelight Marketplace, but there are no immediate plans to open any freestanding stores.

Just as the brand has extended its footwear offerings to include lace-up boots, leather footwear and handbags, there are also plans to get into eyewear and watches down the road, Svarre said.