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Bernard Chaus Inc. is thinking young.

This story first appeared in the October 14, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The sportswear company has launched a young contemporary collection called 1.State, which will be introduced exclusively at 116 Nordstrom stores and this spring.

“It’s a strong, independent name, and that’s what this collection is about,” said Ariel Chaus, chief executive officer of Chaus. Chaus said he saw an opportunity in department stores for a brand that’s contemporary and affordable and targeted to a woman who is shopping at specialty stores such as Zara or J. Crew.

“There’s a huge white space in department stores,” he continued. He said 1.State is geared to a working woman, 20 to 40 years old, with the sweet spot being 25, who wants quality and a contemporary look, but can’t afford the more expensive contemporary lines.

Chaus described 1.State as a full lifestyle collection. There are modern jackets with sleek trims; linear and asymmetrical skirts, and pants that range from slim to wide leg, high-waisted and cropped. Dresses are body conscious in knit and crepe, and many of the tops are mixed with embroidered organza and sheer fabrics. There are also laser cut tops in leather and vegan leather T-shirts. Tribal prints, watercolor florals and abstract geometrics are some of the accents. Among the line’s highlights are a zigzag bouclé wrap skort, paired with a mixed seamed illusion tank, and an ivory quilted jacquard baseball jacket paired with a high-waist, wide-leg crepe trouser.

Jackets wholesale from $64 to $84; pants wholesale from $44 to $54; skirts range from $34 to $49; blouses go from $29 to $49; dresses range from $49 to $69, and sweaters range from $34 to $44. The line is produced offshore. Sizes range from 0 to 12.

The collection is “a new offering in our T.B.D. department. It’s super versatile and we think customers are going to respond well to that aspect,” said Tricia Smith, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of women’s apparel at Nordstrom.

Chaus said he hired a separate design and merchandising team from the contemporary market to create this collection. After its exclusive Nordstrom launch, 1.State will be offered to other retailers in six months to a year. For fall, they plan to add a denim component.

Spring’s launch will be accompanied by a marketing, advertising and social-media campaign, said Chaus. “I believe this is the next big brand for this company,” said Chaus, whose other divisions include Vince Camuto, Two by Vince Camuto, Cynthia Steffe and Chaus.

Last year, Camuto Consulting Inc. acquired the shares of Bernard Chaus Inc. not owned by members of the Chaus family, and Chaus became a private company. Vince Camuto has a 49 percent stake in Chaus. Chaus declined to reveal first-year sales projections for 1.State.

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