NEW YORK — Following up on its revival in footwear, KangaRoos is hopping into apparel with its first line for young women set to launch at retail this fall.

“We are looking to make KangaRoos into a head-to-toe brand,” said Charlie Liberge, vice president and general manager of KangaRoos at Atsco Footwear Group, which owns the brand’s U.S. distribution rights for all categories.

KangaRoos is a division of Pentland Group, the London-based conglomerate that also owns companies such as Speedo and Ellesse, and makes footwear for brands including Lacoste.

The initial KangaRoos apparel collection includes a wide selection of terry-cloth tracksuits, logo T-shirts, long-sleeve polo shorts, velour miniskirts, mesh tops and sweaters designed to blend activewear and streetwear looks. Many of the items come in bright colors such as lime green, orange, fuchsia and purple, and some of the tracksuits have color blocking. Several of the tops and bottoms also have little pockets, the trademark of the company’s footwear.

The apparel targets sporty young women ages 15 to 25 and carries wholesale prices of about $20 to $50. The line has been picked up by Marshall Field’s and Atsco is aiming for distribution in specialty chains such as Finish Line, as well as department and specialty stores.

The Avon, Mass.-based company has aggressive sales targets for this business.

“Our goal is to build the brand to $100 million in sales over the next five years,” Liberge said.

KangaRoos competes with youth-oriented brands such as Blue Marlin, as well as vertical retailers, including Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters, Liberge said. It also will be coming up against other retro brands such as Le Tigre and Penguin that have been crowding the market.

KangaRoos was a popular footwear brand in the Eighties with its bright colors and small velcro pockets on the side. Atsco relaunched the brand in footwear in 2003 and had fast growth in that category as younger consumers sought out retro labels. Its shoes are sold in about 2,200 stores, including Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters.

KangaRoos has never done apparel before. Atsco also plans to introduce KangaRoos into other categories, including footwear and handbags, for spring 2006, Liberge noted.

This story first appeared in the May 5, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We are looking to create a total lifestyle brand,” Liberge said. “The brand is quirky enough that we feel we can add a lot of categories.”

Atsco, which has been in business for 94 years, makes branded footwear under license, has its own brands and also makes products under private label for retailers. Until now, the company’s experience has been primarily in footwear. Last week, Pentland USA acquired a minority stake in Atsco and will help it facilitate its growth in apparel.

“Apparel is a new arena for us,” Liberge said. “But we plan to do more in that area as we seek to create head-to-toe concepts.”

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