NEW YORK – Searle, best known for its coats and shearlings, is making the move into sportswear. While the company has offered sportswear items before, such as chenille sweaters, the new spring collection consists of full groups and will be carried in department stores as well as Searle’s own retail stores.

According to Steve Blatt, president of Searle, department stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Saks have bought the line.

“We’ve always made sportswear, but we’ve never offered it wholesale,” he explains. “The sportswear will round out our offerings in department stores so that there is more than just coats.”

The sportswear collection is an eclectic mix: everything from a classic linen sheath dress with matching swing coat to a miniskirt in microfiber, the fabric the company uses for its signature quilted coats. Other interesting fabrics – denim-look linen, matte jersey, linen crepe and cotton canvas – accent the collection’s clean lines. Wholesale prices range from $75 for canvas shorts to $200 for a rayon dress.