Finish Line Starts New Brand Across 3 Channels

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Don't expect to find a lot of loose-fitting gray sweatpants at Paiva, a new women's athletic fashion concept launching almost simultaneously across the online, catalog and retail channels this month from The Finish Line Inc., the nation's second-largest athletic shoe retailer.


Paiva debuted last week with its first store in Austin, TX, selling national brands like adidas by Stella McCartney, Nike, Fila, Three Dot, OMgirl and the private-label Paiva Essentials.


A 50-page Paiva catalog hits homes by April 21. And the e-commerce site at www.paiva.com should open today, complementing the catalog and retail efforts.


Paiva's target audience is upscale, active women "who are looking for a blend of sport, performance and style," said Kevin Flynn, Finish Line senior vice president of marketing.


These women engage in athletic activities such as running, fitness/dance, yoga and Pilates along with seasonal sports including swimming and tennis.


Paiva's launch adds to the hectic activity seen in the sportswear category.


Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Puma recently signed deals with fashion designers, musicians and high-profile athletes to expand their lines into lifestyle fashion.


Last summer, Adidas-Salomon AG bought Reebok International Ltd., bolstering its position in women's sportswear. Also, Nike introduced a catalog for women with a lifestyle/fashion orientation in fall 2004.


Paiva's merchandise includes a blend of fitness and fashion apparel, footwear and accessories. The focus is on designs that transition easily from workout to everyday activities. The Paiva Essentials line will offer fitness and fashion core items. Prices range from $16 for a private-label tank top to $625 for a Fila tennis dress.


The catalog is viewed as a vehicle to introduce consumers to the brand and a way to reach customers who might not have access to one of the stores, Mr. Flynn said.


The premiere issue mailed to 200,000 names from in-house and rented lists. Mr. Flynn wouldn't reveal what percentage of the list was in-house.


The book mixes lifestyle, active and beauty shots with a combination of individual product shots grouped by collection.


The direct-to-consumer efforts will mirror those of the stores, which are divided by sport and activity.


Paiva's catalog will be promoted in-store, online and through media and consumer collateral. Plans call for the catalog to mail four times a year.


The Paiva stores will be mall-based and designed around the themes of light and energy. The word "paiva" (pronounced pie-vah) is Scandinavian in origin and means sun deity or "of the light." The stores feature soft materials, bright lighting and a spacious environment with bamboo floors, movable wall units and fitting rooms that are easily accessible with strollers.


Finish Line plans to open 15 Paiva stores this year to test different markets, types of malls and locations. Some markets targeted are Dallas, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, FL. The company has identified 200 malls it thinks can support a Paiva store.


Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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