This time around, the offspring of the career pioneer brand Anne Klein II and the problem child Anne Klein 2 has been named AK Anne Klein and launches for spring with a younger lifestyle and image.
“We really wanted to take a more spirited approach. It’s fun, and we love the way the initials look,” said John D. Idol, chief executive officer of Kasper ASL, Anne Klein’s parent company. “Anne Klein 2 was before+women don’t want to see the number ‘2’ on their clothes. It just didn’t feel young and spirited.”
Shunning its career-dressing focus, AK Anne Klein now strives to meet the lifestyle needs of today’s busy woman, offering a collection of career and casual separates.
“It’s day-to-evening,” Idol said, “whether you’ll be at work, in a restaurant or a club, there’s jeans and even great suits. In this marketplace, you’ve got to be able to offer a lifestyle concept.”
This meet-all-your-needs approach also marks a return to Anne Klein’s roots, Idol said, noting that the late designer originated as a true “American sportswear company” 33 years ago.
“With Charles [Nolan, senior vice president of design] here, we’ve gone back into the archives and created a true sportswear line,” he said. “This is what it was originally.”
A mixture of basics and key fashion items, the fall collection features about 150 pieces, some 30 pieces larger than spring. The collection includes rayon and wool separates, woven shirts, satin prairie skirts, sequin sweaters, solid and windowpane suiting and double-faced wool jackets. There are also black leather coats, imitation shearling jackets and corduroy shirts and skirts.
Denim is a first for the better-priced line, and the category features a variety of washes and treatments, such as velour flocking. Jeans also come in three different styles: boy and girl fits as well as stiletto. Wholesale prices range from 25 for a woven shirt, $25 to $35 for jeans, and $75 to $95 for jackets.
“We’re giving a designer label at a great price point,” said Wendy Chivian, president.
The Anne Klein lion logo, recently brought back into play by Nolan, is featured on certain items, such as the woven shirts. The label is red, with white letters spelling out AK Anne Klein.
Retailers who will carry the line include Macy’s East and West, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, Marshall Field’s, Burdine’s and Lord & Taylor. Consistent with the AK Anne Klein label, red and white in-store shops will be featured at many locations.
Nolan, who also designs the bridge-priced Anne Klein New York, formerly known as Anne Klein, was recruited from Ellen Tracy last February after winning points with retailers for giving the line a more sportswear-oriented direction with his resort collection.
“It’s not about an age, it’s about an attitude,” Nolan said of AK Anne Klein, whose core customer starts at age 25 and goes up from there. “I’m having a lot of fun. The challenge is just keeping an eye on the customer.”
Idol has big plans for AK Anne Klein, with the goal of turning it into a major sportswear player doing $100 million wholesale business over the next three years. Industry sources put the current wholesale business on track to do $25 million this year. The line is in 250 doors now for spring and will be featured at the Anne Klein New York store in SoHo opening in February. Idol said he expects to increase the door count to about 500 by fall.
“The real challenge will be selling Anne Klein clothing, whether it says AK Anne Klein or Anne Klein. The line has had a lot of turnover over the last five or six years. But with Wendy and Charles here, we’ve gone back into the archives to true sportswear.”