Byline: Alessandra Ilari

MILAN — These days fashion has two faces: uptown chic and urban casualwear.
That’s why designer Lawrence Steele, who is based here and whose signature collection is about elegant luxe, has added Lawrence Steele Design, a line of everyday sportswear for men and women. Although he tested the concept for spring, fall 2000 marks its first real, full-fledged collection.
“After spending so much time defining my own line, I started thinking of going sportier to include pieces that don’t fit in my signature collections: the ideal tank top, the perfect long-sleeved jersey T-shirt or well-cut chinos,” Steele explained. “My idea is to deliver a fashionable, designer collection, because I’m not interested in the Nike approach.”
The fall group consists of some 100 styles, including a three-layer, lightweight Goretex jacket, jeans fashioned with vintage denim and chunky zip-front sweaters. The line is produced by Italian manufacturer Alberto Aspesi e Co. SpA, a 25-year-old Italian sportswear producer .
“The clothes are [designed] to be worn in the city but also to tackle sports, thanks to their high-tech performances,” said Steele.
Lawrence Steele Design targets women aged 20 to 40. Wholesale prices average $31 for a T-shirt, $68 for a pair of jeans and $131 for a windbreaker, converted from the lira at current exchange rates. Steele said he is determined to keep a lid on prices by outsourcing production to China and other far Eastern countries.
So far, the new label is carried in 120 doors in Europe and Japan; distribution plans for the U.S. are still being ironed out. In the first year, Lawrence Steele Design posted sales of $2.1 million, a figure that the designer expects to climb 30 percent each year.