Byline: Karyn Monget

NEW YORK — Izod, the women’s apparel division of Crystal Brands, hopes to make a strong comeback with its casual sportswear and golf apparel this year, after four years in which it had stopped production, except for an upscale line of golf clothing sold in pro shops under the Izod Club label.
Izod women’s apparel is projecting first-year sales at $15 million, said Alan Tucker, executive vice president of Crystal Brands and president of Izod women’s apparel. By the end of 1996, sales are expected to reach $25 million, he said.
“Four years ago,” said John Rehill, senior vice president of sales and marketing at the Izod women’s division, “it was a thriving $50 million wholesale business for us. We believe the Izod name is untarnished and still has high consumer recognition. We think we have an audience.”
Tucker said the Izod name in women’s apparel was discontinued “because Izod men’s apparel had decided to sell to J.C. Penney.” To protect the status of the Izod name in women’s apparel, the line changed its name to Evan-Picone, then owned by Crystal Brands, he said. “The person who was then in charge of Izod thought it would ruin the brand to sell to Penney’s,” said Tucker. “I don’t think so. I think Penney’s is a very good channel of distribution.”
In 1993, the Evan-Picone name was sold to Jones Apparel Group.
Both the Izod golf apparel and sportswear lines are composed mainly of cotton knits, and a hangtag that bears the Izod name is on each item.
The relaunch of Izod golf apparel for women comes almost a year after Lacoste relaunched its men’s polo shirts with the trademark crocodile motif. A line of polo shirts for women by Lacoste was introduced last fall.
Crystal Brands formerly held the license for Lacoste in North America. In 1992, it sold its rights back to Devanlay SA of France, which now holds the rights worldwide.
The crocodile had been the Izod logo, but Crystal Brands has come up with two new logos for its women’s apparel: a crest with the figure of a woman swinging a golf club for the golf apparel, and a coat of arms for the casual sports line. Both designs feature the Izod name and appear on select basic and fashion styles in each line. The golf line also features accessories produced in-house, including visors, socks and gloves.
Distribution of Izod women’s apparel is aimed at major specialty and department stores and mail order houses. First shipments for the golf apparel are scheduled this month; deliveries of casual sportswear began in January.
Rehill said there already are reorders for key sportswear items in a nautical group: leggings, polo shirts, V-neck sweaters and cardigans.
“Part of our strategy will be to build in-store shops for Izod golf apparel at department stores,” said Rehill. “Stores are funding that area a lot more, and they see a lot of volume can be done.”
He noted that Izod sportswear will be housed in better casual sportswear areas at department stores that feature names such as Jones Sport and Liz Sport.
“Izod sportswear has a lot of active looks, and retailers are aggressively seeking activewear-inspired looks for casual sportswear areas,” said Rehill.
Wholesale prices for the golf apparel start at $15 for a cotton knit polo shirt and go to $45 for a nylon wind suit. Casual sportswear items wholesale from $15 for basic knit shorts to $45 for a knit blazer.