The La Jolla Group recently switched from a licensing model to producing swim in-house starting with the spring 2010 season. I asked Kari Johnson, O'Neill Clothing's VP of Design for Juniors, about the move and other changes in store for the swim brand.
What was the impetus for bringing the line back in house?
We brought the line back in house at the end of our licensing term with RAJ in order to service the retailer in a more cohesive manner, and move the design direction forward. There are so many apparel items that coordinate back to swim, and a lot of key accounts were receiving sales presentations at different times and/or from different representatives under the sub license model. Sometimes the buyers were responsible for both categories.
We listened to their challenges and eliminated steps in the selling process; and we're confident that we've captured the look and feel of the brand in a more intriguing and complete fashion.
What will be new/different now? Will the design direction, target customer, distribution all stay the same?
O'Neill's target customer remains the same: the beach-loving girl who appreciates the colorful, free-spirited lifestyle we represent. The design direction is even more fashion-forward than before; it's more unique and interesting, and maintains a more consistent brand story across the entire collection - from colorways and patterns to key details. Price points will remain the same for the most part.
Any home run prints so far for next season?
Acid wash and dots/stripes!
Who will design the line now?
Our in-house design team under the supervision of our swim creative consultant, Maria Barnes, will design the line. She is a veteran in this industry, and her experience has been invaluable. This teamwork also helps to better maintain the brand story throughout.
Are there any exciting innovations happening in swim?
We have taken key sportswear trends and incorporated them into swim: menswear plaids, buffalo checks, nautical influences, ruffles, and acid wash balance out the masculine and feminine. Animal prints are great for swim as well and, of course, dots and stripes are another favorite.
We're focused on producing incredible fits and providing the quality that O'Neill is known for. We're excited about the new bandeau and one-piece shapes, bra top/structured silhouettes and new pricing structures we've put into place to entice both retailers and customers. Stay tuned!