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German fashion label Rena Lange doesn't have the cachet or visibility of Chanel or Armani. Even Germans don't recognize the name immediately.

But now the upscale fashion label, which sells women's clothing at prices ranging from $1,600 to $2,200, is trying to make a splash internationally and stand out from other upscale German labels such as Jil Sander and Escada.

A new ad campaign breaks in January fashion magazines in the U.S. and free-standing stores are being opened in the U.S., Paris and Zurich.

A Rena Lange fragrance also is in development to complement the line of women's clothing and accessories.


The new ads, created in-house, are scheduled to run for three issues of Elle, Fashion of the Times, Harper's Bazaar, Mirabella and Vogue.

"We've changed the ads from lifestyle shots featuring the supermodel du jour to pure beauty shots of the clothes, worn by the rising stars of the business," said CEO Peter Gunthert in Munich.

The ads feature a new face, 19-year-old Spanish model Esther Ca-nadas, shot by renowned photographer Arthur Elgort.

But in the rough-and-tumble fashion world, where labels prosper and then fail as quickly as last season's fads, Rena Lange is being careful not to overexpose the brand.


The marketer founded by Renata and Peter Gunthert in 1982, has climbed gradually to $50 million in sales with 17 boutiques including Germany; Vienna; Tokyo; Osaka, Japan; and Milan. The label also is distributed to specialty stores in 19 countries.

Asia represents the label's fastest-growing market, according to Mr. Gunthert, but the U.S. offers the highest potential volume.

Since opening a U.S. office in 1993, U.S. sales have climbed to $10 million. A Rena Lange shop opened at Bergdorf Goodman in New York in September and is expected to generate $2.4 million in its first year, according to Deborah H. Baum, president of Rena Lange USA.


In keeping with a strategy of stable, cautious growth, Ms. Baum is expanding the U.S. business by signing up boutiques of flagship stores that carry the brand.

Eight in-store locations will be opened next year, she said, at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue stores.

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