Byline: Anne D’Innocenzio

NEW YORK — Pacific Silk & Clothing Inc., the marketer of updated better-price silk and silk blend fashions under the August Silk label, wants an even more fashion-savvy consumer and has hired designer Randy Kemper, known for his understated, streamlined sportswear, to court her.
Kemper, who closed his eight-year-old designer-priced line last year, has been hired as a concept and design consultant to design Logic, the company’s new sportswear collection, which officially debuts in stores for January ’98 retailing.
The line is aiming at the 30-plus fashion customer who either doesn’t want to pay or cannot afford bridge prices.
For spring, the versatile collection, which has been in test mode over the past two years, offers such fashions as waxed linen belted short coats and sleek, slim pants and mandarin collar jackets, both in silk doupioni. Twenty percent of the line is in knitwear, which features pieces in cable and pointelle knits.
“We’re constantly redefining our business. We are always looking for new marketing opportunities,” said Jack Weinstock, founder, president and chief executive officer of the firm. “There’s a lot of traditional misses’ sportswear. What is missing is young-looking better sportswear — something for a broader range of consumers.”
The firm, which has been on a brand intensification program for the past two years, launched a dress division last year and spruced up its knit business, under the August Silk Knits label, to include space dyed and marled yarns, under the direction of London sweater designer Christopher Fischer. Pacific Silk is also breaking into men’s wear for November selling. The company also markets special sizes and intimates.
Weinstock foresees Logic developing into a $25 million wholesale business annually within a three-year period. First-year wholesale volume is expected at about $12 million, he said. The company, which had been hovering at a volume of $160 million worldwide since 1991, is expected to end the year with $200 million, helped by the additional categories, according to sources.
For Kemper, who was approached by Weinstock six months ago, the timing couldn’t be any better.
“As a designer, I felt the need to spread out,” said Kemper, who is also working on other ventures which he declined to disclose. “A lot of women have approached me telling me that they cannot afford my prices, asking me whether I would make something more affordable. This is an incredible vehicle for me. I want to take knitwear and wovens and give it an elegant edge.”
Kemper noted that he has already been to Hong Kong three times, visiting the factories of Pacific Silk’s financial and manufacturing partner High Fashion International.
“I spent a lot of time with pattern makers developing more fitted cardigans and developing new finishes,” he said. He noted that for spring, the collection, in addition to the waxed linens and silk doupionis, plays up different treatments on knitwear, including pointelle knits and colorblocking. The firm is also getting away from sandwashed silks and instead developing silks with sheen.
For spring, Logic features yarn-dyed linen shirts, shown with silk linen suits, patterned silk bias slip skirts with matching shirts and silk linen shorts.
Jackets wholesale from $79 to $99, while pants are priced from $49 to $64. Skirts are about 20 percent less than pants. Knitwear ranges in price from $24 to $49 for novelty items. That compares to $22.50 to $39.99 for the core knitwear under the August Silk Knit label, said Ellen Dawson, corporate merchandising director.
“I thought that Logic looked fresh, and it was classic and feminine,” said Frank Doroff, executive vice president of merchandising at Bloomingdale’s, who saw the collection last week. He said he is planning to buy the line for spring.
He added, “I think it fills a niche. The clothes were soft, but they were career clothes.”
For fall ’98 selling, Logic is developing heavier-weight merchandise, including silk blends with wool in tweeds and twill. It is also testing a new fabric with Tencel and silk and is developing yarn-dyed jackets and skirts in structured silhouettes.
Dawson pointed out that the firm is working on maintaining continuity from shipment to shipment in Logic’s flow of merchandise to the stores.
“This will help us increase sell-throughs at regular price at the stores,” she said.”It will also develop our repeat customers.”
She added, “Consumers are not just spending a lot of money buying at one time. They are buying one item, and then going back to the store and buying another.”

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