A page from Spiegel’s new catalogue.

NEW YORK — As it approaches its 100th anniversary as a women’s apparel and furnishings catalogue, Spiegel is getting a total makeover.<br><br>The bankrupt company has unveiled a complete repositioning of its fabled catalogue with the lofty...

NEW YORK — As it approaches its 100th anniversary as a women’s apparel and furnishings catalogue, Spiegel is getting a total makeover.

This story first appeared in the January 22, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The bankrupt company has unveiled a complete repositioning of its fabled catalogue with the lofty goal of returning Spiegel to its heyday by providing the ultimate research tool: a how-to style and shopping guide for time-starved women.

Following a nine-month rebranding initiative, the reinvented catalogue features a magazine-inspired format, new product offerings and what its executives call an enhanced shopping experience. Positioned as an “idea resource,” the 400-page book, which was mailed to three million homes this week, includes editorial contributions from such fashion, home and entertainment personalities as Lauren Hutton, chef David Burke, Elle Decor contributing editor Elaine Griffin and celebrity stylist Wayne Scot Lukas.

Geralynn Madonna, chief executive and president of Spiegel Catalogue, said in a telephone interview the firm hopes that besides bolstering its strong brand identity, the redesign will help turn the company around.

The early indications are good. Madonna said Spiegel mailed a test book on Dec. 2, which she said surpassed expectations. In addition, Spiegel conducted focus groups across the country, at which women appeared to be eager to go back to Spiegel, she said.

Madonna added the new catalogue helps women manage time by providing a one-stop shopping and entertainment environment that is inspirational and practical.

While several retailers offer similar editions, including Chico’s FAS, Spiegel said it differentiates itself as a “360-degree lifestyle resource” by providing women with hints, styling tips and ideas for fashion and entertaining. For example, the catalogue offers advice on what to wear and how to wear it. Stylist Lukas, formerly of TV’s “What Not to Wear,” shares his expertise by showing shoppers how to transform 10 classic pieces into different outfits.

The new catalogue offers hundreds of retail categories. Besides upgrading its own private label merchandise without raising prices, the firm has added such brands as Three Dots, Yogini and FAL by Jeffrey Grubb as well as boutiques like Chicago’s Lille and New York’s Scruples to its pages. In addition, the book features exclusive designers, including James Coviello’s apparel and home collection and Rachel Comey.

Madonna said customers had been unhappy with its apparel assortments, expressing that it lacked a style and a point of view.

“Spiegel has now created a style focused on feminine, unique merchandise that is fashionable and versatile and that has true value,” she said.

To further simplify the shopping process, Spiegel developed its “Spiegel Color System” in which colors are consistent across apparel and home categories so shoppers can mix garments or home items, in season and from one season to the next.

In addition, Spiegel has partnered with other retailers including Amazon.com, Harry & David, Royal Caribbean, Sephora and Wine.com.

The last time Spiegel made such a large change to its catalogue format was during the late 1970s, when it focused on fulfilling the needs of working women, and away from hard-line products.

In an effort to reactivate inactive files as well as bring in new customers, Spiegel is supporting its relaunch with a $5 million print, TV, Internet and direct mail advertising campaign. For the first time in more than 10 years, it is advertising on television with 60-second cable slots that began airing last week. With the tag line “Get Smart, Get Spiegel,” the campaign comprises five print ads, each depicting a stylish, modern woman escaping drudgery at home or at work with a Spiegel catalogue.