LEE DONS CASUAL MOOD FOR NEW WOMEN'S LINE;RIVETED BRAND WILL BE BACKED WITH $17 MIL CAMPAIGN

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The Lee Apparel Co. is about to introduce Lee Riveted, a casual-dress clothing line, with a $17 million TV and print campaign from Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis.

Three 30-second TV spots break on NBC during the Summer Olympics, for which Lee is the exclusive denim sponsor. The line, however, goes well beyond blue jeans to include corduroy, colored denim, skirts, jumpers, vests, tops, khakis and jackets.

GOING UP AGAINST THE GAP?

While Levi Strauss & Co. has targeted men and to a lesser extent women with its Docker's line, the Lee collection appears more competitive with The Gap's wider selection of casual fashion. The Lee Riveted budget is about half of Lee's total '96 budget of $35 million, with $15 million behind Lee's basic five-pocket jeans.

Casual dress in the workplace continues to be a hot trend among clothing marketers and retailers. J.C. Penney Co., for instance, this month revealed plans to focus on women's casual merchandise.

"There is a greater demand for casual apparel for women," said Duncan Muir, manager of public and financial information for Penney. "There are more women in the workplace and there are now different definitions of `the workplace."'

Print ads for Lee Riveted break with an eight-page advertorial in the September issue of Vogue featuring supermodel Niki Taylor and actor Brendan Fraser.

HIGHLIGHTING WOMEN'S ISSUES

Lee separately is unveiling Lee Blueprint, a marketing initiative focused on women's issues. The overall campaign is themed "Women's source for denim style."

Lee will be the driving force behind a fund-raising effort with a $1 million goal for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and has plans for Lee National Denim Day on Oct. 25. Corporations will be invited to participate by allowing their employees to wear denim to work that day in exchange for a $5 contribution to the foundation.

A Web site, public-service announcements, posters and print ads in trade publications targeting human resource managers will be developed by Barkley & Evergreen, an advertising and public relations agency in Kansas City.

FASHION SHOWS TOO

The second leg of the effort is the creation of a casual dress program for women that will sponsor in-store and mall fashion shows. Glamour and Mademoiselle will partner with Lee on fashion shows and denim workshops.

Lee will invest $3 million in the campaign for Lee Blueprint. Fallon handles public relations and media communication, including a 30-minute TV special to run in October on USA Network and the Discovery Channel and an in-flight commercial on Trans World Airlines.

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