Tropical wear gets more sophisticated

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Tommy Bahama is getting citified with a push for its sibling jeanswear brand, Indigo Palms.

A little more than a year after Indigo Palms made its foray into the explosive denim category, the brand is getting its first advertising campaign as new owner Oxford Industries seeks to expand the brand beyond cult-phenomenon resort wear.

The launch of its first print campaign this month, from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis, is timed to coincide with a brand push to retailers at the Magic apparel trade show in Las Vegas. The black-and-white ads, which target the 30-to-50-set with a more everyday-life message than the vacation pull of Tommy Bahama, "helps let retailers know we're really behind the brand," said Marketing Director Candi Nicholson.

She said that though both Tommy Bahama and Indigo Palms come from an island philosophy, Indigo Palms is little more "lean forward" while Tommy Bahama is more "lean back, time at the beach."

Unlike Tommy Bahama ads-colorful depictions of vacation paradise with just a brand logo-Indigo Palms ads are intended to be more thought provoking and soulful, with dreamy lifestyle shots and quips such as "Live every waking moment wide awake" and "If you can't write poetry, live it."

creating denim niche

Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at NPD Group, said pushing Indigo Palms as a separate brand is smart. While Tommy Bahama continues to be the leading edge for men's upscale casual sportswear, Mr. Cohen said, the popularity has spawned a slew of lower-priced imitators. The brand extension offers a way to "maintain the integrity of Tommy Bahama and still offer a more affordable product and denim, which appeals to a wider audience."

Don Kerkes, president of Indigo Palms as well as offshoot Island Soft, said that building a brand with a separate message was less about offering a low-cost alternative and more about creating a niche in the denim category. "The opportunity was to capture that little more mature customer when everybody else was going toward the younger, hipper, premium-denim customer," he said.

The brands share some retail accounts, but Indigo Palms has attracted some that are dedicated to denim. "The demand is almost exceeding supply," Mr. Kerkes said. Campaign components will be used in product tags and retail displays to ensure a consistent message, he said.

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