Byline: Melanie Kletter

NEW YORK — After a rocky start in the U.S., Italian label Miss Sixty is looking to reach full throttle here.
While the denim and streetwear brand has been in this country for the last six years and reportedly hit sales of about $6 million in 1999, it has been below the radar screen, while similar brands, such as Diesel and Mavi, have made dramatic strides in the market.
Now Miss Sixty, which targets young men and women aged 16 to 24, is going after the American market with new management and a renewed strategy to energize sales.
“We feel there is a lot of potential here for our brand,” said Mark Wiltzer, president of Sixty USA, the firm’s American arm, who also oversees Canadian distribution. “The U.S. never really happened for us. Basically, we did a top-to-bottom overhaul and reevaluated every aspect of our business here.”
The U.S. division had faced a number of problems, including distribution issues and delivery difficulties, according to Wiltzer. Under his management, Miss Sixty is narrowing its distribution and revving up its marketing efforts. Late last year, Wiltzer brought on Andrew Pollard, a former Diesel executive, as director of sales and marketing, a new position.
The company is scaling back its doors to focus on its top specialty stores and boutiques in its “most important markets,” such as New York and Los Angeles, said Pollard. It’s cutting its retail accounts down to about 200 doors from 300. Among the stores that carry the brand are Rag Factory in Los Angeles, E. Street Denim in Chicago, Post Blue Jeans in Miami and Atrium in New York.
Miss Sixty is owned by Sixty SpA, a privately held company based in Chieti, Italy, which has annual revenues around $300 million. The company also produces the labels Energie — a line that will be named named E here for trademark issues — Killah Babe and Sixty Pro-Tec, none of which is sold now in the U.S., although all three brands are scheduled to launch for spring 2002.
For fall, Miss Sixty is offering a wide range of fashion-forward denim, sportswear and outerwear, as well as accessories and shoes, all of which are produced in-house. The comprehensive collection, which includes knit and woven styles, features classic looks and quirkier items. Among its trendy fashions are plenty of T-shirts and low-waist looks, as well as optic prints and light color denim. Wholesale prices for the bulk of the line range from about $30 to $60. Most of the apparel is produced in Italy, with a small amount made offshore.
The company is also making moves to improve its marketing efforts. It has an advertising campaign, shot by Ellen Von Unwerth, currently running in magazines, such as Nylon and Paper.
In addition to shoring up its wholesale business, Sixty is also planning to open freestanding stores in the U.S. It’s taking its retail plans somewhat slow, however, and only plans to open between seven and 10 units within the next three years, according to Pollard. Globally, there are now some 20 company-owned Miss Sixty stores, including units in Berlin and London.
Sixty USA is also getting ready to move into a new 10,000-square-foot showroom on New York’s Hudson Street to showcase the breadth of its product offerings.