DOING THE SHUFFLE

Byline: Kristin Larson

The sportswear merry-go-round continues as five of the most familiar brands from the last WWD survey two years ago returned to the top 10, while five new entries emerged on the list.
Newcomer Dockers led the list of most recognizable sportswear brands, while the Gap maintained its slot in the number two position for the second time around.
Consumers ranked Ralph Lauren third in sportswear — also new to the list, while the brand landed that ranking in the designer category, as well. For sportswear, Jones Apparel Group holds the license for the better-priced Lauren by Ralph Lauren and Polo Jeans Co. brands.
CK Calvin Klein edged up a notch to number four, while newcomer Tommy Hilfiger landed fifth in the ranking.
It’s not surprising that Dockers and Gap led the rankings, since the two firms recently fought to break out of their reputation as khakis producers.
Dockers, a division of Levi Strauss & Co., still makes khakis, but it has added more fashion to its merchandise mix, including stretch fabrics and more colors, attempting to attract a wider range of customers. The company has also added licensed categories and a new advertising campaign that will run this spring in women’s magazines.
“We are trying to be more of a lifestyle brand,” said Tracy King, vice president of women’s merchandise for the Dockers and Slates brands.
Gap, meanwhile, hopes to attract the attention of baby boomers and Generation Xers via trendier merchandise, a big push on TV and print ads and updating its stores. And fortunately for Gap, its core product category — denim — happens to be enjoying a hot fashion moment at present.
Newcomer L.L. Bean landed six on the list, while Liz Claiborne Inc., which ranked first last time around, fell to seventh place.
Other companies which dropped in recognition, include Cherokee, which dropped four notches to eighth place, and Banana Republic, which placed 10th from its former ranking at six.
At fifth place, things are looking up for Tommy Hilfiger after some rough seasons at retail. “We’re beating plan in women’s and juniors,” said Tommy Hilfiger, honorary chairman and principal designer of Tommy Hilfiger Corp., earlier this year. Now the company is going back to what it does best — preppy with a twist, Hilfiger said — and it seems to be paying off.

Sportswear Top 10
1. Dockers
2. Gap
3. Polo Ralph Lauren
4. CK Calvin Klein
5. Tommy Hilfiger
6. L.L. Bean
7. Liz Claiborne
8. Cherokee
9. Lands’ End
10. Banana Republic

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