LeSportsac is lightening things up.
Last year the accessories brand celebrated its 40th anniversary by revealing new retail design concepts at its Tokyo and Madison Avenue flagships, which showed off LeSportsac’s whimsical ethos. Now the company is tweaking its basics collection for spring 2016 with updated silhouettes, lighter weight materials and enhanced functionality features.
“We really looked at the evolution of technology and the popularity of activewear and we saw an opportunity to elevate the brand,” said D’Arcy Jensen, LeSportsac’s vice president and global creative director. “It was a modern and innovative product back in 1974 and we wanted to reimagine what that looks like today.”
According to Jensen, the first area of focus was fabrication. LeSportsac is known for its bags made from a ripstop parachute nylon material, but going forward the basics collection will be made from a microripstop fabric that’s lighter, has a subtle sheen and holds color well.
“With our new fabric we are able to play with color more,” said Jensen, who added that LeSportsac will start to home in on creating a cohesive collection of solids and classic prints — gingham, dots and checks — that will help build better product stories within brick-and-mortar locations.
The bags’ interior will no longer include a lining. Instead, the interior fabric will be coated with a metallic silver or pearl color. Zippers will also have a metallic coating and the hardware, which was formerly made from plastic, is now constructed with aluminum.
On the functionality front, bag trims will be made from a cotton blend that’s slip-resistant and straps have increased in width for comfort. To accommodate customers’ growing collection of gadgets, bags will boast more pockets. LeSportsac’s best-selling weekender bag previously had four pockets and the updated design includes nine.
Jensen told WWD that LeSportsac has considered integrating chargers and other technology-friendly additions to the bags, but decided against it.
“To fit our bags to specific technology is not always in our best interest because we are a global brand. We need all of our features to be universal,” said Jensen.
Additionally, the logo has been changed slightly and will be printed on each product in a metallic, silver ink.
“It’s smaller and a little more spaced out,” said Jensen. “The previous collection had a lot of logos and for the new collection it will only be placed on one side of the bag.”
The redesigned collection, which Jensen said will reflect a price increase of about 20 to 25 percent and retail from $20 to $200, coincides with a new ad campaign, which highlights the buoyancy of the bags, and a renovated retail concept at its SoHo store, which will be stocked with the new collection from Saturday.
Jensen said the SoHo shop will serve as a test location for its other retail stores and include new fixtures that promote the product. This is dissimilar to the Madison Avenue retail concept the brand pushed a year ago, which focused on plastering the multicolored “Le Stripe” pattern on store walls and shopping bags.
“Because the new fabric is so soft, it really looks best when hanging. We really want the product to be the hero,” said Jensen. “Madison will undergo some retrofitting from the learnings we collect in SoHo. We would like to implement more hanging fixtures, feature the product a little more prominently and have the interior of the store fade away.”
LeSportsac, which was acquired by Itochu Corporation in 2006, has 985 stores internationally and 15 within the U.S., which accounts for 20 to 25 percent of its sales. Berly Isaak, LeSportsac’s senior director of global marketing and PR, said the brand is planning on opening three to five new locations in the U.S. in 2016 and assessing growth opportunities in China.
Isaak told WWD that sales are flat from last year and the brand believes its biggest growth vehicle will be the e-commerce site.