International Consumer, Silver Award: Orvis, Women’s Clothing, Summer 2000 (U.K.)

The cover of Orvis’s Summer 2000 edition of its U.K. women’s apparel book evokes a feeling of warm, lazy days by the beach. The photo depicts the company’s Garden Isle Shirt — a watercolor print of blues and greens with starfish and orchids — draped over a driftwood hanger and blowing in the ocean breeze. For certain, the cover is “pleasant and airy,” according to one judge, though another panelist noted that the vividly colored polyester crepe shirt does not accurately represent the product line, “95% of which are linen and cotton, neutral-hued items.”

The catalog’s “appealing, well-focused” merchandise consists of casual, relaxed clothing and accessories “appropriate for the catalog’s target audience” of mature women. Many of the products are sold as separates, and most items are machine washable, allowing for ease of wear and ease of care. Such products, including the Travel Dress, which comes in a choice of sleeve lengths, speak to older women’s desire for stylish comfort and practicality.

The catalog’s straightforward copy conveys all the necessary product without wasting much time on narrative. The description of the Textured Cardigan, for example, begins: “More upscale and tailored than a sweatshirt, it’s a good-looking light jacket for summer and beyond.” The copy is “competent,” said one judge, “and does a good job of describing and selling the products.” But the panelists felt that the catalog could have used more headlines to draw in casual readers, as well as a table of contents.

The catalog’s design and production are “really fine,” according to at least one judge. Crisp photography, easy-to-read copy blocks that neatly correspond to product shots, and a balanced use of white space make for an uncluttered look that’s inviting to customers. The use of lifestyle shots for many of the products also emphasizes the comfortable, casual-yet-tailored nature of the apparel.

The judges applauded the decision to place the telephone and fax order numbers on the opening spread. The chart converting U.S. sizing to U.K. sizes and the company guarantee also receive prominent placement. While Orvis’s U.K. catalog offers only 24-hour ordering via fax rather than by telephone, the company does promote its Website for customers to order from any time as well. And the unlimited return policy was a smash hit with the panel. “The great guarantee and return policy make this catalog a stand-out,” said one judge.

With such service, it’s no surprise that, to quote a judge, “a slender [36-page] catalog can be profitable with the right product selection.”

The Orvis Co.
Historic Route 7A
Manchester, VT 05254
Company founded: 1856
Catalog launched: 1983
Director/merchandiser: Kathy Gauthier
Designer/production manager:
Tracey St. John
Marketing manager: Chris Wheatley
Printer: Polestar
Color separator: Quadichrome S.A.S.
List brokers/managers: HLB,
Mokrynski & Associates
Cover paper: 80 GSM
Text paper: 60 GSM
Number of pages: 36
Trim size: 8″ × 10-1/2″

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