NEW YORK — Perry Ellis International wants to develop Jantzen into a resort, casual-lifestyle apparel brand to complement the swimwear line, launching in retail stores in 2005. The swimwear line is currently sold in May Co. stores, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney and better specialty stores.

This story first appeared in the March 3, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We feel there are opportunities to develop the brand,” said Oscar Feldenkreis, president and chief operating officer of the Miami-based PEI, after speaking at the Bear Stearns Retail, Restaurants & Apparel conference Wednesday. “We did a recent study with NPD and the results for Jantzen were extremely positive. It’s still the number-one brand in missy swimwear.”

PEI bought Jantzen from VF Corp. in March, and this spring launched Jantzen beach sandals through a licensee, as well as a Jantzen towel program to be sold exclusively at May Co. stores. In Jantzen’s heyday in the early Nineties, the brand did about $200 million and was sold in product categories including sweaters and sportswear, Feldenkreis said.

The firm is waiting until 2005 to launch the resort apparel line because it first wants to launch the junior brand Ruby for 2004, he noted. “We feel it’s much more important to get the new junior label off the ground,” he added.

Meanwhile, the company is also planning to debut Perry Ellis women’s and junior’s swimwear in retail doors in spring 2004, which is being designed in-house. The company has hired Diane McCullough as its accessories merchandiser, overseeing the development of beach accessories for its swimwear brands Jantzen, Perry Ellis and Havanera, a Latin-inspired men’s wear brand, that will extend into men’s and women’s swim also in 2004.

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