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NEW YORK — Bob Mackie is continuing his effort to democratize fashion with the expansion of the Bob Mackie Studio label into misses’ and petites for spring.

The moderate-priced sportswear line is currently sold in plus sizes.

“It’s a very feminine collection, a very girly collection,” said Mackie. “A girl can feel like a real girl when she wears this and still be ready for business.”

The 500-piece line has a wide range of looks, including bouclé jackets, embellished tops using sequins or beading as well as grosgrain ribbons, pants, skirts and cardigans.

“I don’t think it’s wildly cutting edge because that isn’t our customer,” said Mackie. “It’s not somebody who’s just jumping on every trend, but on the other hand we have a lot of trendy things.”

Mackie brings to the line experience from both poles of fashion, having outfitted the likes of Cher and sold lower-priced looks on QVC for more than a decade.

The line is produced under license by La Rose Inc. and is slated to ship to stores in January. It wholesales for $15 to $30. It’s expected to drive $20 million to $25 million in sales next year and twice that in 2006.

“The consumer today doesn’t need clothing, she’s only buying it because she wants it,” said Bob Rosen, chief executive officer of La Rose. Accordingly, the line is designed to “have an attitude,” Rosen said. For instance, the jackets have details such as Bob Mackie signature linings.

Key fabrics include silks and cotton sateen. The launch will be backed by an ad campaign in national women’s magazines, outdoor advertising, such as on phone booths, and in-store visuals.

“Bob Mackie’s name is a wonderful name to brand,” said Rosen. “He’s been associated with the biggest celebrities for so many decades. When you think of Bob, his name is attached to celebrity status and glamour.”

Mackie’s recognition is a leg up for the line since branding is quickly becoming the name of the game in moderate sportswear. Squeezed by sharper fashions from discounters such as Target and snappier presentations in the better-priced area, moderate vendors find themselves needing to develop more fully fleshed out brands to compete.

This story first appeared in the September 1, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Already in moderate, such companies as Kellwood Co. with Sag Harbor and Jones Apparel Group with Bandolino are leveraging their size to fund national marketing campaigns. Kellwood is also making use of some designer star power from Oscar de la Renta with O Oscar, a moderate line produced under license and launching for fall.

Mackie is happy to attach his name to the line he designs in conjunction with La Rose, but still doesn’t completely buy into branding.

“I never have understood that,” said the designer. “The customer likes to think that there’s a name attached [to a line] and there’s somebody behind that, but at the same time, personally, I’ve never cared for that. It never impressed me one way or the other.”

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