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Esprit Shakes It Up

Esprit Home is taking another run at the U.S. market — but with a new merchandising strategy that mimics the multi-season delivery cycles characteristic of apparel retailing.

Israeli textiles manufacturer Kitan, which holds the global licensing rights for Esprit Home, has forged an alliance with U.S. marketing and sales firm Renaissance America to relaunch the brand. Esprit had an abbreviated stint last year as a Bed Bath & Beyond exclusive through a license with Brownstone.

More than 40 Esprit Home designs for 2006 will be on display during the New York Home Textiles Market in Esprit's showroom on Broadway — in advance of the brand's traditional debut at Heimtextil.

Esprit plans five seasonal merchandise cycles:

  • January to March: beach;

  • February to April: jacquard bath and spring knit sheets sets;

  • May to August: back-to-school bedding and bath sets;

  • August to October: flannel bedding;

  • September to December: higher-count (300- and 400-) bedding as well as better-quality bath.

“The average successful apparel label has 12 seasonal deliveries a year,” said Charlie Schlang, CEO of Renaissance America. “We spent a lot of timing planning this thing. We're ready to launch with the January shipment for beach. Now it's a matter of going into production, which we have already booked.”

In terms of pricing, the line will be positioned below Nautica/Tommy Hilfiger/Nicole Miller tier and slightly above private label, he said. For example, suggested retail on 200-count cotton sheet sets ranges from $12.50 twin to $59.99 king/California king. For back-to-school, Esprit will offer six-piece bath sets — two 14-lb., Egyptian cotton 27-by-54-inch bath towels, two hand, two wash — for $19.99. Printed or solid all-cotton, 150-gram flannel sheet sets will retail from $19.99 twin to $49.99 queen/king/California queen.

“Our goal is to be priced slightly above generic, similar to mills and substantially below designers,” Schlang said.

Under the agreement with Kitan, Renaissance will handle U.S. sales and marketing. Fayette, with which Schlang is also associated, will handle product sourcing. Better goods that can affordably be better produced at Kitan's plant in Israel will be, Schlang said. The remainder will be sourced, primarily from China and Pakistan.

The line will target consumers aged 16 to 30 who shop the department and specialty channels. At market, Esprit will show eight to 10 finished beds, Schlang said.

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