Byline: Janet Ozzard

NEW YORK — Women’s Dockers is introducing a premium line to its casual sportswear collection.
The women’s companion line to Levi Strauss’ phenomenally successful men’s Dockers is launching a high-price component to its moderately priced line of khaki bottoms, related tops and outerwear.
It will make its debut for fall selling at better department and specialty stores and will be shown during the March market week.
The premium line will wholesale for about $2 more than the core line, which runs from about $18 for khakis and from $14 to $17 for tops.
The men’s Dockers line, launched in 1986, was one of the biggest apparel success stories of the Eighties, becoming a $1 billion retail business in five years. But the women’s business, now 10 years old, has not been as easy. Dockers for Women does about 15 percent of the brand’s total sales, or about $150 million, according to industry sources.
Recently, with the rapid development of corporate dress-down policies, Levi Strauss has given more attention to its women’s casual business. But so have other denim companies, such as Lee, and the new Dockers premium line is partly a response to that.
“There is a consumer-driven need for a more premium line of khakis,” said Bobbie Silten, director of marketing at Dockers brand for women. “But also, a lot of other brands have come into the marketplace recently. While we continue to have great rates of sale on our core product, we see an opportunity for something a little better.”
“There’s nothing redundant to what we’re offering in the core line,” said Tracy King, director of sales and retail marketing.
There is also a slightly more forward approach to the styling, such as flat-front khakis with a tab waistband.
“They are forward, but not trendy,” said Silten. “The fabrics are also more premium. We’re using combed cotton rather than carded, nylon versus metal zippers, bias binding and blind hemming. These are the little details that add value.
“We try to flatter the woman’s figure, by doing things like putting the side seam forward slightly and getting the pleats right so they don’t bow out when you sit down,” she said. “It’s for a mature woman’s body.”
Colors include the classic khaki, as well as a dark camel and black. Related tops, such as a mock turtleneck, will be offered in engineered stripes, while some wovens will be in what King calls “non-pattern patterns,” such as very small geometric prints. There are also some stretch fabrics in the line, and a few pieces of outerwear such as a peacoat in a microsanded twill khaki or chocolate.
“We’re trying to do some more interesting pieces than we would do in the core line,” said King.
There will be an ad campaign to promote the new line in 11 markets — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Dallas, San Francisco, Houston, Minneapolis and Atlanta. It will be added to the Dockers men’s campaign. In addition, there will be some print advertising in dual-audience magazines such as Vanity Fair and Esquire. There will also be point-of-sale promotions at retail accounts, and Silten said the company is suggesting that the premium line be placed next to the core line, but displayed differently.

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