PRESTO READY TO GO FOR NIKE

Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — Nike hopes its new Presto apparel disappears like magic from sales floors this fall. But a few retailers aren’t sure the spell will work.
The streetwear-inspired line is designed to hook up with Nike’s new Air Presto unisex athletic footwear that will be launched at retail in June. The lightweight running shoes, made of stretch mesh with molded mid-foot support overlays, are offered in six sizes — XXS to XL, because they stretch — and 13 color combinations.
During the five years of development, Presto footwear was shown randomly to consumers in New York’s Central Park and was worn by elite triathletes, a Nike spokesman said.
Presto apparel features some nontraditional looks for Nike — capri pants with athletic piping, double-layer camisoles, three-quarter-sleeve jackets and navel-baring racer-back tanks among them. Retail prices range from $18 for a T-shirt to $70 for a laminated mesh-lined jacket.
“The targeted consumer for this product is everyone — male or female — from young dedicated runners to the active consumer who has a flair for style and color,” the Nike spokesman said.
The Presto apparel catalog, however, appears to be geared more to teenagers and young adults. Unlike other Nike apparel catalogs, several color photos feature nonathletic-looking young women wearing makeup, jewelry, pigtails and braces.
Nike plans to customize distribution of the label. Presto T-shirts, shorts and hooded lined jackets are geared for athletic specialty stores; fitted tanks and laminated pullovers are aimed at sporting goods stores, and more fashion-forward items, such as the double camisole, are suited for urban shops, according to a chart in the Presto apparel catalog.
A print ad campaign is to be unveiled in June, the spokesman said.
Nike declined to say how many stores plan to carry the line or give projected wholesale volume, but a few major retailers aren’t yet sold on the prospect.
Kelly Sailor, apparel buyer for branded women’s and kids’ apparel at The Finish Line, a 410-unit, mall-based chain, said the line has “some very attractive pieces,” but has no plans to carry Presto at this time. About 75 percent of the retailer’s sales floor is devoted to footwear, she noted.
“It’s not appropriate for our customer,” Sailor said. “We have to be very careful about the selection of our women’s [stockkeeping units] from Nike because we have limited floor space and we need to make a presentation.”
Galyan’s Trading Co., an 18-store operation, plans to offer Presto apparel as a unisex product in limited doors, but has planned its buy more for men than women, according to Chris Campbell, merchandise manager.
“We’re going to give it a try,” he said. “We’re not treating it as a big, big rollout.”
Academy Sporting Goods, a 50-unit chain, does not plan to carry Presto because the line is geared more for hook-ups — activewear with coordinating athletic footwear, said Jennifer Miller, women’s athleticwear buyer.

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