EASY SPIRIT STEPS INTO SPORTSWEAR

Byline: Kristin Larson / With contributions from Antonia Sardone

NEW YORK — Easy Spirit, the company known for its comfortable, functional shoes, is springing into apparel this fall with a line of knitwear-related separates.
Like the name suggests, the collection is intended to be as simple and carefree as possible.
“We’re in a cycle and there’s a real demand for comfort clothes,” said Peter Boneparth, president and future chief executive officer of Jones Apparel Group, who, as reported, will succeed Sidney Kimmel in May following the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting. “It’s almost a stress-free solution as people are spending more time at home, with ease, comfort and style being key.”
To make things simple, the collection will center on “five easy pieces” and feature about 100 items each season. The pieces include a V-neck sweater, long skirt, pull-on pants, cardigan and sleeveless mock neck.
Sizing also will be “as easy as 0, 1, 2, 3,” said Benny Lin, senior vice president creative director, with 0 fitting a size 4 and 6 and 3 being a size 14 and 16.
“So, she really has more flexibility in her size choice,” Lin said. “It’s about easy-to-wear, easy-to-care-for apparel. Something you can wear to be active in, travel in and it’s dressed up enough to be social. With home entertaining, there’s more of a gravitation toward comfort and cozy, stress-free solutions.”
Prices are also meant to be easy — on the pocketbook, that is, with everything retailing under $100, Lin said.
The line will open in a minimum of 225 doors, Lin said, targeting department stores such as Marshall Field’s, divisions of Federated Department Stores and Saks Inc. Lin said it’s geared toward a customer 35 to 60 years old, but said it’s more about “attitude” than age.
Key items include a black velvet coat; a boiled wool, belted cardigan; a velour zip-front, hooded top; a denim Tencel jeans jacket and skirt, and a double-faced sherpa jacket. The label is off-white, with taupe letters spelling out “Easy Spirit.”
Retailers lauded Easy Spirit’s approach, saying it addresses an important element in better sportswear.
“It’s a great opportunity — a home run,” said Hal Kahn, ceo of Macy’s East, noting that Macy’s will put the line in about 40 to 50 doors. “I hate to say it, but it’s easy, well priced, not complicated sizing. It’s really for the woman who travels, who works, who wants ease of care and of fit. I salute Jones for being creative and coming out with a line that’s needed in department stores.”
Kahn also commended the make, saying it fits a “mature woman,” which is the majority of the store’s business.
“It’s simple pricing — mix and match,” Kahn added. “It’s wear-to-work and not structured career.”
Liz Haesler, senior vice president of women’s apparel at Marshall Field’s, said the line “looks phenomenal” and added that their buyers think it could easily be a $10 million retail business annually.
“They really focused on the consumer,” said Haesler, adding that it will be carried in all Field’s stores. “It really addresses a need for today’s woman who is busy and active and doesn’t have a lot of time. She wants to look great, updated and modern, but needs a relaxed fit. And everything in the entire line is relaxed, but it looks sophisticated.”
Haesler said the “five easy pieces” are perfect for the woman on-the-go.
“This customer is 30 to 60 years old. She’s busy with work and family, educated, affluent and likes to travel,” she said. “Everything fits in a box, they just focus on the [customer] and I really see that in the line. There are elements that are very trend right, for holiday, like a velvet mandarin jacket and macrame sweater. There’s so much ability to mix and match, but not to the point that it doesn’t look updated because it really does.”

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