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Spiegel, Time Warner Show Off Sample of Their Video Sales Venture, Catalog 1

NEW YORK -- The film starts with a model cavorting on the beach in a bathing suit, then cuts to a studio with a host and two fashion experts.<BR><BR>One expert talks about the Moroccan influence on swimwear and shows a clip of a couture runway show....

NEW YORK — The film starts with a model cavorting on the beach in a bathing suit, then cuts to a studio with a host and two fashion experts.

One expert talks about the Moroccan influence on swimwear and shows a clip of a couture runway show. Cut back to the swimsuit and matching pareo.

This is not QVC or Home Shopping News. It’s a short example of Catalog 1, Spiegel Inc. and Time Warner Entertainment’s home shopping joint venture, shown at a press conference Monday at the annual NRF conference. Spiegel and Time Warner have formed a video mall with Spiegel, Neiman Marcus, Crate & Barrel, Williams Sonoma, The Sharper Image, The Nature Co., Eddie Bauer and Time Warner’s Viewer’s Edge.

Catalog 1 will launch in four Time Warner markets, beginning in March. Catalog 1 and its participants will make use of their own infrastructures. For instance, phone operators and fulfillment will be handled by the individual catalogers.

In addition to its own sales, Spiegel, as an equity partner with Time Warner, will receive an undisclosed percentage of profits.

“We all want to keep our identity on service and the way we ship merchandise,” said John J. Shea, chief executive officer of Spiegel.

Shea claims the cost of involvement for the catalogers is similar to the cost of producing a catalog.

Spiegel and Time Warner will produce the programs with input from the various catalogers.

“Creative retailers are real egomaniacs and like to see their personalities reflected in their stores,” said Gordon Segal, owner of Crate & Barrel.

According to Spiegel, price will be no object on Catalog 1. The bathing suit and pareo shown in the film, from Gottex, cost $108 and $176, respectively.

“We’re not afraid of price points,” Shea said. “We’re going to go as far as we can.”

Nor is Shea worried about return rates.

“Those of us in the catalog business are used to whatever the return rates are,” he continued. “We have outlet stores to handle returns. As catalogers, we’ve learned to live with it.”

So far, Gottex has agreed to participate in Catalog 1. Spiegel carries DKNY in its own catalog.

Asked whether that gives it the right to sell DKNY on Catalog 1, Shea replied: “I would think so.”

Shea will even go door-to-door on Seventh Avenue.

“I’m sure I’ll be the one to talk to Jerry Chazen and John Pomerantz,” he said.

Chazen is chairman and chief executive officer of Liz Claiborne Inc., and Pomerantz is chairman and ceo of The Leslie Fay Cos. Inc.