Sergio Valente sets foray into Web space for 2000

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A fashion icon of the 1980s is about to plunge into the premier business opportunity of the 1990s. Sergio Valente, the skin-tight- jeans maker of the Me generation, will create a Web site next year for the Internet generation.

The marketer's spring ad campaign will mark the brand's first foray onto the Internet.

The jeans company's Web site is scheduled to go online Jan. 15, but may wait up to 30 days to work out any bugs before its spring campaign breaks, said Steve Miska, president of Sergio Valente. The site (svjeans.com) will include some e-commerce activity and links to the Web sites of retailers that carry the Sergio Valente brand.

The move online is both to keep up with the competition-including Diesel, Polo and Tommy Jeans-and to reach the young, fashion-forward consumers who make up Sergio's clientele, Mr. Miska said.

"The customer we're targeting is more involved with the Internet," he said. "Our customer doesn't spend time in shopping malls."

Sergio will break its spring 2000 campaign, from Toth Design & Advertising, Concord, Mass., in March magazines such as InStyle, Vogue and W. Out-of-home advertising will include kiosks and outdoor boards in New York and Los Angeles and postcards in markets nationwide.

Spring print ads have the same provocative look as Sergio's $2 million fall campaign. But the spring media schedule will lean more heavily on entertainment and music-oriented publications such as Interview and Vibe, and on magazines with Latin and African-American readers such as Honey, Latina and Van.

ETHNIC CONSUMERS

That change was due to comments from retailers, who noted the brand was popular among ethnic consumers, Mr. Miska said. Sergio Valente had $1 million in sales at wholesale last year and expects to do 60% better in 1999.

The media schedule is still being finalized, but Mr. Miska estimated Sergio will increase its spending as much as 30%. The company also expects to increase its outdoor advertising, he said.

Sergio Valente was the maker of ultimate disco duds in the late 1970s and early '80s. But the brand had been dormant from 1982 to 1997, when it was bought by Seattle Pacific Industries, an apparel company that also markets Union Bay juniors sportswear.

Seattle Pacific relaunched the line in 1997, but chose to backpedal its retro appeal and focus on consumers who weren't even born in Sergio's heyday (AA, July 26).

The spring ads will promote both women's jeans and the new men's jeans line. That men's line-which includes jeans, T-shirts and outerwear-began appearing in stores this month, and may expand into a full sportswear line next year.

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