A look from the Gant women’s line.

NEW YORK — Gant wants to bring its preppy persona to American women.<BR><BR>The Swedish brand is known for its men’s wear, but recently introduced women’s to the U.S. market at its 645 Fifth Avenue flagship here, which it is using as...

NEW YORK — Gant wants to bring its preppy persona to American women.

The Swedish brand is known for its men’s wear, but recently introduced women’s to the U.S. market at its 645 Fifth Avenue flagship here, which it is using as a testing ground for a full fall 2005 rollout to other retailers.

The women’s line hit stores in Europe this past spring and is slated to bring in sales of about $80 million in its first year. Overall, the firm has $400 million in sales from wholesale accounts and 15 owned stores. There are 200 stores globally, four of them in the U.S.

“It’s designed as one collection, but every market tweaks it,” said Ari Hoffman, president and chief executive officer of Gant USA.

The women’s line will stick to the roots of the classic, preppy men’s collection, with twill and poplin shirts, cashmere-cotton blend tops and plenty of corduroy.

“Corduroy’s very important to us,” said Hoffman, pointing to a collegiate-looking blazer made of the material.

Gant women’s has several groups, including Country Weekend with casual five-pocket twill pants; Ivy, featuring lots of checks and stripes, and the more elegant Park Avenue. Knit and jersey tops retail for $60 to $100, while sweaters range from $80 to $150 and woven shirts go for $90 to $135.

“We cover essentially the spectrum from sport, the active sport, through what we’d call a little more dressed up,” said Hoffman.

For next fall, Hoffman is looking to roll out the line to 100 to 150 better specialty stores.

Some of the firm’s spring advertising in fashion magazines will feature the men’s and women’s lines. There will also be individual catalogues for women’s and men’s, as well as other direct-mail efforts.

The firm has set up a separate women’s design team in Stockholm.

This story first appeared in the October 28, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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