NEW YORK — Bob Mackie now runs the gamut from outfitting Cher for the stage to suiting up women with affordable careerwear for the office.
The classically styled, moderately priced Bob Mackie Studio line, which is produced under license by La Rose Inc., bows this fall in 466 Catherine’s Plus Sizes doors and will be expanded to other retailers in regular sizes in the spring. The dressier line might then be joined in fall 2004 by other similarly priced offerings from the designer.
Studio helps round out Mackie’s other offerings, which include a made-to-order collection, novelties, furniture, fragrance and wearable art for QVC.
While declining to provide volume or door-count projections, Mackie is making the line versatile enough to grow with more than 600 pieces. Retailers can pick certain prints or styles and carry them exclusively.
“There’s a definite need for career dressing,” said Mackie in an interview at his new showroom at 1412 Broadway.
“There’s a sloppiness in the world today,” he said, bemoaning the less-than-polished look favored especially by some of the younger set today. “It’s the jeans and T-shirt phenomenon.”
Mackie’s own efforts to push back the tide of slovenliness will retail at $39 for blouses and $49 for pants and up to $89 for jackets. Fabrics include silk, cotton and Lycra. There’s also some polyester and linen mixed in. As Mackie said, “Nobody wants to get the iron out anymore.”
The designer focused on fit with the line, noting, “A lot of women don’t know what it’s like to have something really fit well.”
Fit is also of continual importance to the plus-size customer. “The average woman in America is a size 14, not a size four,” said Mackie, who described the market as “kind of neglected.”
“They don’t want to dress old, but they don’t want to look foolish either,” he said.
Catherine’s president Lorna Nagler said, “Bob Mackie really resonates with our customers.” The store sells plus-sized apparel to a target customer who is mostly in her 50s and married.
Part of what attracts that customer is the line’s use of color, patterns and style, while the designer’s star power also has sway.
“Bob Mackie is that touch of glamour,” she said. “It is geared toward something they can wear to work. It makes it easy for them to find something comfortable, but very fashionable to wear to work. Our customer tends to be that middle manager woman and the career assortment is difficult — a lot of people have walked away from career.”
The customer also sees Studio as a designer brand with affordable prices, she said, adding, “In this value-conscience time, it really is a wonderful combination.”
Catherine’s doors are typically 4,000 square feet, with a third of the store devoted to career, a third to casual and the rest split between intimates and ready-to-wear. The Studio line holds the dominate position in the career offerings.