Danette Drake, Director of Merchandising for Fox Girl’s, On New Swim Line

Fox announced the launch of its new 2010 juniors swimwear line earlier this month, and the line is set to debut officially at ASR. Danette Drake, director of merchandising for Fox Girls, says that the brand’s decision to branch out into women’s swimwear made sense due to the overwhelming success of its girls apparel line. The initial test pilot for the swim line was released last year and the brand shipped a test to select retailers in July, says Drake, who explained that the line is now officially open to all retailers and distributors.

Why did Fox decide to expand into a new category right now?
We've had a lot of requests from our retailers over the years. Our sales team is always receiving requests for additional product categories and particularly in the girls area. We have a very strong business with our men’s boardshorts and with a very unique look to moto and our heritage. We felt it was a good time because our girl’s business has been steadily growing and growing every year, with more retailers picking up the line, so we felt it was the time to add the product category.

Cheeky Booty Short, $79
Cheeky Booty Short, $79

How would you gauge the response from retailers so far?
The sales team has been out pre-lining it, and it was at the Bread and Butter in Berlin and the response was overwhelming. People were stopping at the booth to check out what’s new with Fox, and swimwear buyers who were not necessarily Fox customers were stopping in to see the swimwear, so it worked for us both ways. And previewing with some of our retailers now, from sporting good stores to specialty surf and skate stores, to some of our regional specialty stores,  they have all expressed an interest. It's very encouraging, especially understanding that the swimwear business and business in general is tough right now. It somewhat speaks to the strength of the brand, so when you get a  hot category for girl’s with a hot brand it’s a good combination for us.

What type of growth are you seeing with the girl's product in general?
We normally don’t share that type of proprietary information, but we can say that the growth in the girl’s area in the business over the past five years has been increasing at a steady momentum.

How long has this line been in the works, and what’s gone into the planning and creation of it?
It was inspired last year by a trip to Australia that part of the design team took. I think we knew last year – July and August – as we were getting our samples and shipping out our first test that we were excited about the prospects of the category and that getting some early results were very uplifting. It kind of gave us the momentum as we got into planning our Spring-Summer season that we needed to add the category – it gave us the confidence we needed to add the category. Dresses have also been a category in the girl’s area that have come on for Fox in the last couple years as the dress business becomes more important in general. And the dress/swimwear coverup/boardshort opportunity in Spring and Summer for us was a nice tie-in – a nice way to build off product categories that were successful. Taking dresses into cover-ups and taking boardshorts and adding the quad stretch, which is a little bit more technical and that our men’s department uses. We have two boardshorts in the line that are quad stretch – a two way technical stretch, and we are going to try it in our swim line this year and see how girls respond to a little more technicality in their boardshort.

How will Fox make its swim line stand out and stay competitive?
We are going to make it unique to us, which is different from competitors  because we are going to draft our art from our moto line. And in the launch of this line there is a swimsuit called ‘Daredevil,’ and that art was inspired by a piece from a moto suit, helmet, and boot that one of our pro riders wore when he won X Games a few years back. That was spun into successful boardshort – it was a black piece of art on white blackground – and we twisted it and put it on a black background with white and  gold foil hints, making it a bit more sexier for girl’s. We’ve also added some Fox Head charms and moto charms, small metal touches. The lining on quite a few suits in the line are either gold metallic or silver metallic. We try to do hot colors that were a little more unusual than the expected blues and aquatic family that is typical of the surf industry. We are offering a hot pink berry punch and a neon salmon color. The pink and orange play really well off black, and black will be a core color for our suits, always, all the time.

Daredevil Onepiece, $79
Daredevil Onepiece, $79

How does this line fit into the overall image of the brand?
The swim suits have a tough sexy edge just like the Fox girl. We do see the line continuing on. We will  keep it small and focused, which is the way this line was built. And we’ve noticed that the Fox girl wears her swimsuit not  just to the water, but she shows up at races with her denim shorts on and bikini underneath. Motocross lives in a lot of hot climates.