NEW YORK — Nautica Jeans Co. plans to stop shipping women’s product after summer 2004 deliveries, a spokeswoman said Friday.

This story first appeared in the January 12, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

This news came the same week that the brand’s parent company, Greensboro, N.C.-based VF Corp., revealed it was in talks to sell the John Varvatos brand to its namesake designer. VF acquired that line in August as part of its $585.6 million purchase of Nautica.

The news means the Nautica brand is effectively pulling out of the women’s market. “Over the next 90 days, we will begin doing extensive research into the department store and Nautica brand consumer. It’s a pretty comprehensive project,” said the spokeswoman, adding that it would entail a “detailed analysis of the women’s retail and denim business.”

She said the overall goal was “to reenergize the total Nautica brand using our financial and human resources to strengthen” the core men’s sportswear business, including jeans.

It was not immediately clear whether any staff would be laid off as a result of the decision. Last month, Leslie Singer left her post as vice president of women’s jeans at Nautica to become executive vice president of Tommy Hilfiger Junior Jeans.

The Nautica Jeans women’s line hit stores for fall 2000. The venture was the company’s second effort to enter the women’s arena, after an earlier licensing deal with Bernard Chaus Inc. The women’s jeans line never met the success that the men’s product did and executives at the firm retooled their approach several times in an effort to improve sales.

The sailing was not made any easier by market timing. The launch came at a time when the jeans business was becoming increasingly polarized, with consumers trading up into high-end jeans that retailed for $100 or more, or into moderate-priced styles at $30 or less, rather than into the $50 to $60 “status” range that had dominated the business during the Nineties.

When VF acquired Nautica, it made clear that its first priority was on building the brand’s sportswear business. VF already has a hefty jeanswear portfolio, including such brands as Wrangler, Lee and Riders. The day the planned deal was revealed, VF chief financial officer Robert Shearer said the company’s first priority would be strengthening the line’s men’s business.