IN THE MIDDLE
MAKEOVER FOR BRATTEN: Fern Bratten’s plus-size line, a division of Kellwood Co.’s David Dart Design Group, has been undergoing some fine-tuning since it was launched at stores last August.
The line, which had focused on rayon prints, has evolved into solid colors, with an emphasis on novelty fabrics such as fake suede and chenille. Silhouettes now include more jumpers, vests and jackets.
The makeover is being led by David Dart, who last fall became design director of the new group, which also includes Melrose, a misses’ sportswear line, and David Dart, a contemporary sportswear line. Fern Bratten had been part of the Melrose division. As reported, Kellwood is counting on Dart’s design talent to add some spark to the other two moderate lines.
The first Bratten clothes with Dart’s design influence will be for June 30 deliveries, according to Bratten, marketing and sales director for the line. Dart has pushed for barn jackets, chenille sweaters and fake suede jackets.
Bratten, who returned last month from a 40-city tour of stores that started in February, said she has gotten a great deal of feedback from shoppers during the tour and is using that information to make some changes. “Consumers need more Friday wear, more office casual,” she said. “They are asking for more washable clothes.”
She added that the customers are very sensitive to price and said she will continue to stick to a retail price range of about $45 to $65.
Bratten said that after seeing a great deal of interest among her customers for garment-dyed washable linens, the company decided to extend the shelf life of the group through fall. The linen collection debuted at stores in February, and the company originally was going to end deliveries in April.
The Fern Bratten line is also focusing on Tencel and denim, which Bratten said plays into casual lifestyles.
The Fern Bratten collection is currently in about 400 doors.
“I felt that I really needed to be out there, whether I was doing a fashion show for 300 women, or a workshop for 30 women,” Bratten said. “We just really need to get closer to the consumer.”
KELLWOOD PROMOTES EXEC: W. Lee Capps 3rd, formerly director of corporate development, was named vice president of corporate development for Kellwood Co., a new post.
Capps, who reports to Hal J. Upbin, president and chief executive officer, directs Kellwood’s acquisition program and many of its major initiatives in supplier management, warehousing, distribution and logistics as well as the implementation of a new integrated business system.
Prior to moving to the corporate division in 1996, Capps was chief financial officer of Kellwood subsidiary American Recreation Products, which he joined in 1987.
TROPICAL’S FINANCING PLAN: As part of its plan to acquire Farah Inc., Tropical Sportswear International Corp. has put together a $185 million financing package.
The Tampa, Fla., apparel firm plans to enter into a $100 million bridge financing facility and a new $85 million senior revolving credit facility.
As reported, Tropical has agreed to pay $92.7 million for El Paso, Tex.-based Farah.
Tropical will use the bridge financing facility and the credit facility to finance the acquisition of Farah and repay debt.
Tropical then plans to offer $125 million of senior subordinated notes due 2008 and to use proceeds from the notes to repay all debt outstanding under the bridge facility and a portion of the debt outstanding under the new credit facility.
PING BACK TO WOOLRICH: Woolrich has named Ray Ping national sales manager, a new position.
Ping, who will report to Al Zindel, vice president of sales and marketing, will be responsible for managing all Woolrich sales managers as well as its New York and Dallas sales offices.
Ping was at Woolrich from 1976 to 1984 before stints at Lands’ End, Columbia Sportswear and Ashworth Golf Apparel.