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Exclusive: Crew to cast off old image by expanding womenswear range

Lifestyle brand and retailer Crew Clothing is looking to shed the “stereotype” of its style and woo over a new customer base with an expanded womenswear collection.

The design team – headed by creative director Tess Richards – is diversifying the collection, improving the quality and upping the number of options available.

“Womenswear is quite untapped,” Richards told Drapers. “We felt we were missing key product areas, one of which was dresses. In the summer especially, we should be offering simple T-shirt dresses and jersey maxis.”

For autumn 12 the 350-piece collection features 29 dress styles compared with nine this time last year. Styles include floral-printed tea dresses, jumper dresses, a broderie anglaise shift dress and a colour-blocked pleated dress. Spring 13 is shaping up to take that even further with 39 styles.

Similarly, Crew is revising its approach to tops, branching into silk and cotton T-shirts and chiffon blouses for the first time.

Crew has also upped the premium appeal of the range. Cashmere knitwear will be available for the first time and the quality of its trims and detailing such as cord trims, zips and elbow patches has also improved.

“We’ve got to offer the customer something new and exciting,” said Richards, who is hoping the refresh will end consumers’ “stereotype” of Crew. “To them it was sweats and polos and once you’ve got that reputation it’s very difficult to let them know you are doing something different.”

Richards said prices haven’t changed having spent “months” negotiating to secure the best prices.

Crew’s womenswear goes into 30 stockists, including John Lewis, mainstream womenswear indie Alexandra’s of Keswick in Keswick and Sussex indie Amici, and gained a further 30 for spring 13 during Pure.

Although she declined to give a figure, Richards said she planned to expand this stockist base further still, as womenswear begins to take over menswear as the dominant division.

The split in turnover between men’s and womenswear has been 50/50, but Richards said she will be looking to up that split in favour of womenswear.

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