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LBH Group Takes Swing at Refreshed Tennis Lines

Athleticwear manufacturer The LBH Group Ltd. has redesigned LBH, its 35-year-old signature tennis line, as well as its Wimbledon licensed line, with an eye toward the colorful contemporary lifestyle market.

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TORRANCE, Calif. — Athleticwear manufacturer The LBH Group Ltd. has redesigned LBH, its 35-year-old signature tennis line, as well as its Wimbledon licensed line, with an eye toward the colorful contemporary lifestyle market.

"It's a little sexier, faster and still very functional, not just black, white and navy," said LBH president Judy Petraitis, noting that the LBH line follows the attention to detail and fit that marked the company's relaunch of its Lily's of the Beverly Hills golf line last season.

Lily's has recorded 30 percent growth and 45 new accounts, and Petraitis is aiming for a 35 percent sales increase for the tennis lines.

Both LBH and Wimbledon are based on color and prints, with silhouettes such as strappy tank dresses with cutout backs, jumpers and fitted jackets. Color combinations for LBH include tangerine and pink and kelly green and navy. In addition to Wimbledon's traditional whites collection, which LBH Group creative director James Sowins has updated with appliqués and textured fabrics, there are three color collections: blue-yellow, black-white-tan and red-white-blue.

"Women want to look pretty again, like with the Juicy Couture track jacket," Sowins said. "We're giving them soft feminine fabrics that still perform with moisture wicking and UV protection."

The 100-piece LBH collection is priced higher than an athletic line such as Nike, but lower than a designer brand such as Ralph Lauren, with skorts ranging from $54 to $64 at retail and dresses in the mid-$70 range. The Wimbledon line retails for $46 to $108.

LBH has had the Wimbledon tennis apparel license since 1997 (Ralph Lauren has the license for Wimbledon sportswear).

"We want to stay true to Wimbledon's niche nature and not mass market it," said Petraitis, although the company is growing its distribution in the U.S., the Caribbean and Canada. "There will always be a traditional whites collection, but they very much wanted to add a little spice with flirtatious florals and brights."

There will be four deliveries of Wimbledon each year and six for LBH, allowing retailers to add fresh merchandise on more of a sportswear frequency rather than traditional tennis lines.
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