Frederick's of Hollywood Sports New Look

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Evening dresses and pantsuits are in while swimsuits have gone the way of the bullet bra at Frederick's of Hollywood.

Less than a year after the company filed for bankruptcy, the catalog famous for its risqué lingerie has been revamped. The result: an increase in response rates because of an improved presentation of lingerie and special occasion attire, said Danielle Savin, Frederick's of Hollywood's vice president of direct marketing.

The company -- which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July -- spent the better part of 2000 restructuring its catalog, revamping its Web site, updating its creative and building a better house file.

"Items that weren't paying for their space were eliminated from the book," Savin said. "We focused on the items that have done well for us and did everything to [clean up] the styling of the book and bring it to a higher level."

Swimsuits had a high return rate and were not paying for their space in the catalog, Savin said. However, the company is considering whether to return the swimsuits to the catalog in the future.

Frederick's also dumped most of its ready-to-wear sportswear, which was not producing satisfactory sales.

The elimination of the items coincided with plans to update the look of the book by using items inspired by labels such as Gucci and Versace.

The catalog division has been trying to regain its position in the industry. It floundered after the firm changed from a publicly held company to a private entity more than three years ago. Frederick's of Hollywood was purchased in July by Wilshire Partners, Newport Beach, CA, from Knightsbridge Capital Corp., Chicago.

A total of 5.2 million Spring Preview 2001 books will be mailed. The first drop took place during the final week of 2000, while the second drop will occur next week, Savin said. The catalog was designed inhouse and production costs, including postage, were 50 cents each.

Frederick's of Hollywood, Los Angeles, used its house list and also prospected using rented lists acquired from Fasano and Associates, Los Angeles.

The cataloger will continue to prospect in an effort to expand its house file. Frederick's of Hollywood has been prospecting at 35 percent during the current fiscal year. Savin said the company expects to prospect at 48 percent by the next fiscal year, which begins in August.

The Frederick's demographic is 75 percent female, between 18 and 39 years old. Annual household incomes range from $25,000 to $75,000. The average sales order for the Spring Preview 2001 catalog so far is $75, down from $80 for previous catalogs. Savin said the drop resulted from the swimsuit elimination. However, overall purchases have increased because of greater demand for panties.

The current 76-page catalog has more than 400 items that range in price from $8 for lace crotchless panties to a limited-edition designer red silk gown for $160. Each page features between two and eight items, with some pages having the same items featured in different colors.

The catalog's most popular item is an ensemble that includes a red and white bra, a thong and thigh-high stockings. The items, which can also be purchased separately, sold out in four days.

"We were really shocked at the high demand for this," Savin said. "We weren't expecting it to sell out so quickly. We're pretty sure it's due, in part, to the Valentine's Day holiday."

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