PARIS — It may be Felipe Oliveira Baptista’s first day on the job, but Lacoste’s new artistic director has already decided where he plans to take the sportswear label.

This story first appeared in the September 1, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I will associate the main values and DNA of the brand with a more transversal women’s wardrobe, something which appeals to a younger woman and which is feminine and unique,” the Paris-based Portuguese designer said in an interview Tuesday. “I also plan to do extensive research in fabrics and experiment with colors in order to create an effortlessly chic aesthetic.”

As reported in WWD on Tuesday, Oliveira Baptista, 35, succeeded Christophe Lemaire, who was hired by Hermès in May to replace Jean Paul Gaultier as creative director of women’s ready-to-wear.

Rejuvenating and feminizing Lacoste’s women’s wear, which represents 20 percent of sales, is exactly what the label needs as it seeks to increase its appeal to 20- to 25-year-olds, according to José Luis Duran, chief executive officer of Devanlay SA, the label’s global apparel licensee.

“Lacoste can make a lot of progress in the women’s segment,” Duran said.

As part of the goal to generate annual growth of 10 percent beginning in 2011, Duran also plans to introduce a new advertising campaign, expand the accessories offer, remodel stores and bolster its presence, particularly in the U.S. “We want to return to the growth we had in 2008,” Duran said.

What to expect for Lacoste men’s wear remains to be seen. Oliveira Baptista’s appointment marks his first foray into men’s wear, which accounts for 75 percent of Lacoste’s sales. The designer dabbled in men’s wear when he did a stint in Lemaire’s design studio before launching his own collection in 2003.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, now I have the opportunity and the team,” said Oliveira Baptista, adding he plans to grow the already 12-strong creative team at Lacoste.

Oliveira Baptista will make his debut for Lacoste in September 2011 during New York Fashion Week.

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