DENIM DISH

Campos Maps Nautica Expansion
Three weeks into her new gig at Nautica Jeans Co., Sandra Campos has spelled out her initial goals for the year-old women’s jeans line.
In an interview at the company’s Manhattan showroom, the senior vice president of women’s, who joined Nautica on Feb. 26, said her primary aim was clarifying the line’s mission in the eyes of its retail customers.
“We’re trying to reeducate our retailers as to who our consumer base is,” namely 18-to- 34-year-olds, with a particular play for women in their mid-20s, she said. In addition, she’s emphasizing that Nautica Jeans is “a denim-based sportswear line, with our first focus on denim.”
In addition to the eye on denim, though, she hopes to improve the sales of the line’s tops component — an area that her boss, Nautica Jeans Co. president Paulette McCready, has said is not up to the firm’s expectations.
“There is a lot of opportunity in that area of the business. It can be 35 to 40 percent of sales,” Campos said of tops, which are a major part of the assortment at Polo Jeans Co., her alma mater. Today, she said, tops represent about 20 percent of Nautica Jeans’ women’s sales.
In addition to beefing that up, Campos said she wants to develop some specialty store distribution for the brand. Today, the lion’s share of Nautica Jeans sales are through department stores, with specialty retailers representing 7 to 8 percent of sales. She said she’d like the split to be more like 70 percent department stores and 30 percent specialty shops.
The real value to specialty distribution, she said, is it allows the designers to be a little more creative in their offerings.
“The denim customer at specialty stores is a little more sophisticated and enthused about denim,” she said. “The specialty store customer is also not as price-sensitive.”
She said she believed there was room for another player in the highly competitive status jeans business, at a time when some believe the status brands have stumbled.
“There may have been seasons when status brands did not offer the right product,” she acknowledged, noting that in particular, spring 2000 was a rough time for status denim. But, she continued, “There is room for another brand. It’s just a matter of differentiating ourselves with great product.”
In terms of product, Campos and Nili Lotan, vice president and design director, pointed to the company’s fall offerings. Fabric remains paramount, with the assortment including black denim treated with a coating that gives it a leather-like feel, as well as washed and whiskered blue corduroy, which, from a distance, looks like denim.
Lotan said that playing with textures and surfaces is a way to keep consumers interested in the five-pocket silhouette, which is the core of the jeans business.
“You want to explore, to expand the idea of denim to other areas,” she said. “There is something about the five-pocket that is really great. This is a way to keep it, but add some interest.”
Campos was somewhat more pragmatic in her assessment of the trend.
“It’s a reason [for the consumer] to buy,” she said. “It’s a reason to spend more money.”

Polo Gets Wired for School
Polo Jeans Co. and Panasonic will team up this summer for a back-to-school in-store and online promotion targeted at tech-savvy, stylish scholars.
Tech Style 2001, which coincides with the launch of Panasonic’s e-wear collection, is expected to arrive in cyberspace July 15 on Polo.com, followed by a brick-and-mortar kickoff of Tech Style lounges Aug. 1 in Polo Jeans departments.
The e-wear line is a collection of compact digital audio players that can be affixed to clothing by a clip, neck strap or armband.
Ross Klein, senior vice president of corporate marketing at Sun Apparel Corp., which produces Polo Jeans, said the partnership is “a shared marketing opportunity for complementary products based on lifestyle and newness.”
“Each back-to-school [season], we’ve partnered with someone that has some sort of value-added product or experience that complements the sort of lifestyle or aspirational lifestyle of our consumer,” he said.
Last year Polo Jeans teamed up with Sprite and installed in some of its departments “Sprite lounges,” which featured vending machines decorated with denim accents and the Polo Jeans rivet-shaped logo.
This year, Klein said “between 25 and 35 A doors,” including the Manhattan locations of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, will house Tech Style lounges.
Klein said e-wear products will be featured as “styling accessories” on Polo’s fall collection in each lounge. TVs in the lounges will also air snippets of newly released videos from Universal Music Group, a Panasonic promotional partner.
Klein said the stores housing the lounges will also host a variety of in-store events, such as Polo Jeans-Panasonic e-wear fashion shows and deejay demonstrations using equipment from Technics, which is owned by Panasonic.
Klein said a video promoting Polo Jeans’ fall collection and the e-wear line will air in stores that do not house Tech Style lounges, in order to add “an element [of the promotion] in all of our doors.”
The promotion will also include a sweepstakes offering the chance to win a Polo wardrobe and e-wear accessories. Entry forms will be available in-store and online.
In addition to a sweepstakes entry form, the Polo.com Web site will feature details about the promotion’s in-store activities and product information about Polo Jeans’ fall collection and e-wear.

Levi’s Children’s Recall
San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. on Tuesday issued a recall for about 349,000 children’s and infants’ snap overalls sold between February 1999 and March 2001.
The company said no injuries had been reported, but that it had learned that the parts of the snaps on the overalls can separate from the garment, posing a choking hazard.
In total, the recall affects 13 styles of garment for infants and young girls and boys, including snap jeans, snap coveralls and snap short-alls.
Levi’s said it would issue a full refund for the products to consumers who contacted the company, at 1-800-USA-LEVI (872-5384).

Jordache Strikes a Pose
The inaugural Jordache Originals print advertising campaign, featuring Venezuelan model Erely Zambrano, will gallop its way into the April issues of InStyle and Latina magazines.
Unlike the racy Jordache ads of the Seventies, which focused largely on the brand’s sex appeal by featuring half-dressed women, the new campaign emphasizes female empowerment, said Michael Riego, senior vice president and creative director for Jordache Enterprises, the maker of Jordache Originals.
“We didn’t really want to re-create the topless girl because that worked during its time, but now women don’t necessarily want to be represented in that way anymore,” he said. “I think it’s sexier now to see a woman that is empowered.”
The ads, which showcase the line’s spring offerings, depict Zambrano in a variety of karate moves.
“It’s really meant to convey that this woman doesn’t just sit around and pose and look pretty,” said Riego, who shot the ads. “She’s dynamic, she’s powerful and she’s independent — it borrows from the aesthetic of ‘Charlie’s Angels.”‘
The campaign’s tag line, “Jeans With Horse Power,” is a double entendre.
“It’s a wink at the horse heritage of Jordache and it’s how you feel,” he said. “You’re revved up when you’re wearing these jeans.”
While Jordache chose to launch a new series of print ads, it opted for a 1978 TV spot to kick off its TV ad campaign last November when the line landed in stores.
“The thinking behind re-airing the television spot in the first place was really to use that as the ramp-up to the re-launch of the Originals,” Riego said. “Now that we’ve rebranded ourselves and reminded the public about our heritage, we want to move forward and evolve with the times.”