OLSEN SAILS TOWARD BRIDGE TIER

Byline: Shirliey Fung

NEW YORK — While many better manufacturers have dipped down into price points that lean toward the moderate segment, designer Sigrid Olsen is taking her collection upward, toward the border of the bridge market.
The sportswear company, which issues clothing under its signature collection label, Sigrid Olsen Sport and So Blue, is increasing the number of items being offered at upper price points in order to service a baby boomer customer whom Olsen feels is being ignored.
“That consumer is not really being well serviced,” said Olsen, whose 17-year-old company was taken over by Liz Claiborne in 1999 when it acquired an 84.5 percent stake.
“There’s such a trend toward youthful looks in fashion. We don’t realize that women over 35 or 40 want to look stylish and current, but not too trendy.”
In fashion terms, that means that “the whole collection division has become a lot more sophisticated,” said the Wakefield, Mass.-based designer. “Things were a bit more structured, but we’ve softened the look with softer fabrics and easier silhouettes.”
Olsen said the move also reflects her yearning to work with more expensive yarns and fabrics.
“When you cut yourself off at the better price points, you cut off some of the creativity,” she said, adding that the new look is driving business and opening new accounts in department stores such as Dayton Hudson.
Olsen said that she’d like to see her line in Saks department stores and Neiman Marcus, as well.
Likewise, by offering a range between better and lower-bridge price points, Olsen hopes to increase her specialty store business — she currently sells to some 1,800 stores nationwide — by opening accounts that carry bridge lines.
Olsen’s new look is being reflected in the firm’s spring ad campaign shot by Rocco Laspata, which can be seen in March and April issues of Harper’s Bazaar, In Style and Marie Claire. For the first time, the firm is also advertising in nonfashion magazines such as Martha Stewart Living and O.
Olsen said, “We’re trying to be more lifestyle oriented.”

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