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Casual lifestyle companies aren't about to let the sluggish economy and its accompanying woes get them down. Instead, many vendors are determined to grow sales in 2008 — some by double-digits — with tactics that include launching new labels, focusing on a broader demographic appeal, expanding into untapped wholesale territories and using more sustainable and eco-friendly fibers and fabric blends.
Companies also continue to seek faster and cheaper sourcing, production and shipping programs that offer more immediate deliveries for skittish stores that are increasingly reluctant to place advance-season orders.
Many stores have told vendors that a growing cadre of consumers are buying fashion closer to need and that many of their shoppers are fretting about their shrinking fashion budgets due to the litany of economic crises facing the U.S., including rising fuel prices, the subprime mortgage crisis, the volatile stock market and uncertainty of the effects of the upcoming presidential elections.
Despite a challenging economy, many casual lifestyle companies are planning on sales gains in 2008 through new labels, wholesale and retail expansion and reaching more consumers with a wider demographic and marketing focus, among other tactics.
"There's no doubt that the U.S. fashion business is going through a tough time right now — along with a lot of other industries — but our company is being more proactive to build volume," said Tom Williamson, vice president of sales at Aventura Clothing Co., a three-year-old division of Sportif USA in Sparks, Nev.
"Retailers and, in turn, consumers are buying less due to the various economic challenges out there. But we are looking for 10 percent volume growth in 2008 by going after new retail accounts, especially women's lifestyle specialty stores that can use our brand as a destination focus for consumers. We're sending our retail accounts thank-you cards and gifts, such as bags of our own house-blend coffee, and staying in close contact with stores to monitor their needs and get feedback on our line — they love and appreciate the personalized attention."
Aventura's fall collection includes more than 100 pieces, with a wholesale price range from $12.50 for an organic cotton camisole to $125 for a suede jacket.