OSHKOSH TO LAUNCH LOWER-PRICED LINE

Byline:

NEW YORK — In its first attempt at selling to the mass market, OshKosh B’Gosh Inc. will launch a lower-priced children’s wear line for fall at about 300 Montgomery Ward stores.
The new line, called Our Stuff by OshKosh B’Gosh, will be in Ward’s stores by the end of July, OshKosh said.
With the addition of the OshKosh brand, Ward joins an increasing number of discounters and mass merchants adding more brand name apparel to their selections.
Wal-Mart Stores, as reported, added White Stag sportswear in 1993 and this spring plans to launch a Kathie Lee Collection and pick up Catalina activewear. The discounter also is talking with AC Holdings about selling Faded Glory denim and casual sportswear, possibly in an exclusive arrangement.
But neither Wal-Mart nor the other discounters will get their hands on the new OshKosh line, at least initially.
Douglas W. Hyde, president and chief executive officer of OshKosh, said the manufacturer will not make a decision on expanding distribution beyond Montgomery Ward until “after the first wholesale selling period.”
A spokesman for OshKosh added the manufacturer currently is “not considering” adding to the distribution.
“We want to get a selling season or two under our belt before we make a final decision,” he said.
Wholesale volume on the new label, including fall and holiday 1995 sales, is estimated at $5 million or less, the spokesman said.
Currently, OshKosh is sold only at department stores, including Sears Roebuck & Co. and J.C. Penney Co. The brand is not available at discounters such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Caldor or Bradlees, but OshKosh officials said they believe the label has broad appeal.
“The Our Stuff line extension was developed in response to consumer research,” Hyde said “Consumers told us they wanted OshKosh B’Gosh quality in everyday play clothes priced below our flagship brand.”
The 350-unit Ward’s chain, which does not currently sell OshKosh merchandise, was selected as the manufacturer’s partner for the test because of its “eagerness to test this line extension,” OshKosh said. Ward’s, which will not initially offer Our Stuff at about 40 of its smaller-market stores, is among merchants eager to improve the softlines side of its business.
The manufacturer said the new line will have the same quality as traditional OshKosh items, but it will emphasize knit instead of woven fabrics. The majority of items will be sold in sets and will be priced between 20 and 25 percent less than the equivalent OshKosh items, the manufacturer said.
Our Stuff will be available in newborn to 6x-7 sizes, the same range as the higher-priced OshKosh B’Gosh and Baby B’Gosh lines.

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