VIVIENNE TAM HERALDS YEAR OF THE ‘DRAGON’

Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — Vivienne Tam has a new president and a new business plan.
Responding to the increasing number of designer-image lines that are more accessibly priced, Tam is planning a spring launch of Red Dragon, a casual denim-based sportswear label that is part of several business initiatives being put into place by Christopher LaPolice, who joined the firm last month as president of sales and marketing.
Red Dragon will mark Tam’s first foray into the better-price arena since she evolved her original business venture, East Wind Code, which focused on lower-priced sportswear, into the more expensive Vivienne Tam collection in 1993. Jeans are expected to retail for $110 to $120 and T-shirts for $68 to $78 — about 30 to 40 percent lower than the signature line.
Tam’s lower-priced offering comes after the high-profile launches of Marc by Marc Jacobs and See by Chloe, lines that have extended “designer-concept” product into lower-price levels, making the merchandise and brands more approachable to young customers.
LaPolice, who was most recently president of sportswear at Tahari, said Red Dragon could generate between $5 million and $10 million in its first year. The signature Tam collection currently has sales of about $25 million.
“My collection is mostly novelty prints, but Red Dragon will be great-priced basics with some novelty mixed in,” Tam said.
In addition to the launch, LaPolice has outlined several priorities for the company. They include the establishment of licenses for footwear and handbags for fall 2002, extending its swimwear production for resort 2002 and a lingerie license for spring 2003. Tam also is looking to franchise the company’s store concept in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston.
“You can do two things based on what happened with business,” he said. “You can shrink and stay in a shell, or you can make some bold moves.”
Tam also recently signed a license with Italian firm Multimoda to produce and distribute her collection in Europe. Additionally, the deal will enable her to incorporate more luxury knitwear, novelty denim washes and structured sportswear in her domestic collections, Tam said.

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