NEW YORK — Robert Rodriguez is moving from designer to better.

This story first appeared in the October 28, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

This Tuesday, One Jeanswear Group, a division of Nine West Holdings Inc., will unveil Robert Rodriguez as a better sportswear brand, with plans for a February launch for spring. The collection is designed by an in-house team; the namesake designer, who had spearheaded the brand for more than a decade, exited earlier this year when Sycamore Partners acquired The Jones Group. Jones added the Robert Rodriguez Collection to its portfolio in 2010.

“I knew that there is a white space in the better department,” said Jack Gross, chief executive officer of One Jeanswear Group, of the decision to reposition the line. He cited opportunity in the “upper part of better and lower part of contemporary.

“I was looking for a brand that I thought would sit well within that space and met with a number of prospective brands,” he added. “I thought Robert Rodriguez was a perfect brand to go into that space because it had designer cachet. It could be a backbone for that area that I think is going to be the next big boom area.”

The better Robert Rodriguez label will be available to department and specialty stores, with suggested retail prices from $59 to $189. Gross declined to disclose sales projections, but said, “We are going to be in about 100 doors in all better department stores. Most people in the business want big orders and commitments as quickly as possible. I want a controlled launch, with a strong and big footprint in a limited number of stores to create a very strong presence for the brand.”

The line will launch with sportswear and the plan is to expand into a fuller lifestyle concept for fall 2015 with jeanswear and an “athleisure component,” as Gross put it. “Once we see the momentum, we also plan to expand it into footwear, handbags, accessories and intimate apparel.” These categories, he added, will be licensed.

One Jeanswear Group’s portfolio also includes brands such as Gloria Vanderbilt, l.e.i., Bandolino, Energie and Code Bleu.

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