NEW YORK — O Oscar, the moderate sportswear collection licensed by Oscar de la Renta to Kellwood Co., is getting better, literally.

The line, which launched last fall, is being pulled from stores for a makeover. According to Eliza Bolen, vice president, licensing, at Oscar de la Renta, the firm is working with Kellwood to bring the O Oscar line into the better sportswear category.

“Our partnership with Kellwood is very strong and I think we’ve done a great job on the line. We just realize that it really is better for us to be in this department,” Bolen said. “Those few extra cents we can spend to use some better fabric, better buttons, more embellishments, is worth it for us. And it makes more sense for us.”

O Oscar’s move is part of a continuing trend of designers trading on their well-known names and high profiles to reach a larger audience with less expensive fashions. Bolen said she wasn’t worried about the competition in the better area, which is populated by lines such as Lauren by Ralph Lauren, City DKNY, Calvin Klein and Michael Michael Kors.

“We are confident in the line,” she said, “and we will still price the O line slightly below most of the others.”

Ironically, when the moderate line was launched last year, de la Renta said in an interview that he wouldn’t place the line in the better department since he felt that market may already have been penetrated too deeply by big brands. “That other place is too saturated,” said de la Renta in February 2004. “There is a consumer in moderate who wants to buy designer product as well, and I want to be the first one to do it.”

The new O Oscar better line will launch for spring retailing.

This story first appeared in the June 8, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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