NEW YORK — Lane Bryant has a new idol.

The 735-unit retailer selling clothing to plus-size consumers has signed “American Idol” finalist Kimberley Locke as its celebrity spokesmodel for Seven7 jeans.

Seven7, currently sold exclusively in select Lane Bryant stores, will launch chainwide on July 10 with the introduction of the campaign. Locke’s image will be featured on in-store banners, the company’s Web site, direct mail and in August issues of Glamour and In Style, continuing in September issues of O, The Oprah Magazine and Essence.

The ads were shot by Jeff Bark, whom the company has used on several of its campaigns. One ad features both a front and back view of Locke wearing a pair of Seven7 jeans and a Lane Bryant top.

“Hollywood and the music world are how fashion is communicated these days,” said Lorna Nagler, president of Lane Bryant. “Denim is iconic in fashion, so it’s only natural for us to connect denim with someone iconic in music. Kimberley is so talented, she loves her curvy body and she looks terrific in the denim. She really represents a fresh face for the new Lane Bryant customer.”

Prior to the introduction of the new campaign in stores, Locke will sign autographs in the Lane Bryant booth at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans on Sunday, as well as perform for the crowd. Then she’ll embark on a seven-city store tour beginning in Los Angeles on July 17. She’ll hit Miami, Dallas, Philadelphia, New York (where she will make two appearances) and Chicago, and finish in Minneapolis on Aug. 27. She will perform in some of the locations and sign autographs for customers.

Lane Bryant’s Seven7 brand is the company’s highest-end jeans brand, offering denim jeans retailing from $79.50 to $99.50. The brand will sit alongside the retailer’s Venezia jeans label, with an opening retail price of $39.50, and Supreme Venezia, which starts at $59.50.

“Denim has always been strong for us, but now with Seven7 we are able to offer the product at all price points, for all occasions,” Nagler explained. “When we started selling the brand in the spring, we did have it in some of the smaller markets and we turned the product faster in those stores than we did in the larger ones. It just shows how those customers are starving for status denim and they’ve been ignored by the fashion industry.”

This story first appeared in the June 29, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Also on July 10, the company will introduce its denim bar, which will display all of the jeans brands in one place. Signs will educate the customer about fits and washes.

“Our customers are not afraid to pay for a product that makes them look and feel good,” Nagler said. “Now that Seven7 is available to them, there is a designer jeans brand available for her. Before this, the size 14 and above woman has never had the opportunity to buy high-end jeans in her size. This launch is really our most important strategy for fall.”

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