(Filed Under Wholesale Swimwear News). Lahco of Switzerland, after a successful launch on Saks.com last year, has put in place a range of sales strategies that it expects will continue to expand sales of its men’s and women’s swimwear across the U.S.
After signing a U.S. distribution and marketing agreement with CMK Distinctive Brands several months ago, the brand will again exhibit at the Miami swim show in July (where it showed last year) and will also have a booth for the first time at Curvexpo in New York in August.
“Our first season with Saks 5th Ave was very successful and the strength of Lahco’s “Never Out of Stock” (NOS) program has allowed Saks to reorder throughout this selling season,” explained Russ Kelly of CMK. “We want to expand in the luxury department stores, while building meaningful relationships with better boutiques and online retailers like maritimo.com,” which also currently carries the brand.
This year CMK is “in discussions to expand to the stores” (brick and mortar Saks locations). And smaller stores, a few of which bought the brand in 2013, are also on target. “We are looking at high end boutiques to be a key part of our sales,” continued Kelly, emphasizing that the “NOS styles [make] reorders easy and inventory requirements less than a once a year buy.”
CMK advocates using a broad array of marketing tools to launch a brand in the U.S., and plans to use them all with Lahco. “Today many of the major department stores as well as better boutiques do substantial parts of their swim business on the web. The trend for affiliate related marketing on blogs, social networks and other forms of digital content and as well as app’s has created a whole new playing field for retailers to sell and manufacturers to distribute. The approached will be balanced across all primary channels.”
Lahco is almost 100 years old, with an extensive history in Europe. The label was established in 1922 by a German, Dr. Lahmann, and eventually grew to prominence. From the 1950’s through the 1970’s, the company boasts Lahco “enjoyed its’ position as the bestselling swimwear brand throughout Europe.”
Fast forward to 2003 when it was purchased and relaunched by Renate Millauer-Lang, the current CEO, who described the brand in an email response to questions from BODY. She has “the clear intention of restoring the great and last remaining Swiss swimwear brand to its’ former glory...Today the passionate attention to detail and the tailored comfortable fit are long-standing Lahco traditions. They are demonstrated in the classic colors, cuts, and materials of this collection and the philosophy built around a straightforward concept: Lahco simply wants you to feel beautiful, fashionable, and totally at ease.”
The initial success in Saks shows the brand has traction on this side of the Atlantic. “Lahco of Switzerland is a special brand, with a unique look and position within the US swimwear landscape. Its retro appeal is timeless, elegant, modern, and very high quality,” according to Millauer-Lang. “Lahco is loved by women and men who seek high quality products with a sporty, elegant look, made out of the finest fabrics from Italy, France and Spain...The brand is uniquely created and produced in Switzerland with the finest construction and attention to detail; this has a unique appeal to American consumers who appreciate finest quality.”
“Key style components of Lahco, such as the classic colors navy, red, white, black, rich orange and yellow, incorporated in timeless stripes, dots, and other elegant prints, bring an unquestionably American appeal to this high end European brand of swimwear.”
Millauer-Lang continued, “Lahco use unique fabrics such as bi-elastic woven checks and knitted stripes and pique fabrics. This gives the collection its’ elegant retro touch. In addition to Lahco’s minimalist retro style…think James Bond or The Man from U.N.C.L.E… Lahco’s trademark is the red zipper pocket with distinctive triangular zipper pull. This is found on all the men’s styles and sometimes on the ladies as well, and was the perfect place to store your cabana key for an elegant day on the water.”
Asked to address American retailers about the prospect of carrying the brand in their stores for the first time, Millauer-Lang emphasized, “Lahco is very flexible. Equally important to our retailers is Lahco’s NOS line of Basics. Knowing that they can reorder and carry over bestselling Basics season to season, creates a much more attractive opportunity for our boutique retailers. Lahco is competitively priced for better department stores and boutiques. Lahco is currently sold in stores like Jelmoli and Globus in Europe... One piece bathing suits for women will retail from $220 to $260, bikinis from $190 to $240. Men’s swimwear will retail for $135 to $240.”
Although the company now only offers swimwear, it has past experience in additional categories. “We are focused on swimwear, but from the history of the brand, Lahco started in 1922 with underwear. Then in the 1940’s swimwear was created which became the brands’ core competence, and today provides the depth and power behind our direction,” declared Millauer-Lang. “Also in our past was a line of ski wear, so we have plenty of opportunities to build up the brand, but today [we are taking it] step by step with a focus on swimwear.”
Each year the company produces a women’s collection of about 60 styles and a men’s group of about 40. “The Ladies Spring ’15 Collection presents polka dots on a structured fabric, a beautiful floral print in retro style, and some very nice knitted stripes in a classic sporty style,” explained Millauer-Lang of the groups that will be shown in July. “The Collection also includes a group made out of solid fabrics. Classic color-ways black and cream, but also color blocking in sorbet colors, made out of luxe Eurojersey Sensitive fabrics. The Men’s Collection showcases trunks and shorts, some made out of finest elastic woven fabrics, which guarantee the best wearing comfort.”
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