Saks starts chasing men

Upscale cataloger/retailer Saks Fifth Avenue is beefing up its menswear business with a catalog launched this summer.

The 52-page Saks Fifth Avenue Folio Men’s Collections mailed in August to 700,000 names from the New York-based company’s women’s apparel catalog Folio, and the buyer files from its men’s clothing book Bullock & Jones, and its former menswear title Men’s Collections.

According to Amy Kraeger, Folio’s director of marketing, the new catalog targets upscale female gift buyers and male shoppers. “In fact, more than half of the 700,000 names we mailed to are men who shop for themselves,” Kraeger says. She would not disclose the projected response rate, expected average order size, or the price range of products. “Since the catalog offers everything from wool socks to cashmere sweaters and leather jackets, prices vary greatly.”

The book sells private label merchandise as well as clothing from designers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Kenneth Cole, reflecting the offering available in the men’s departments at Saks Fifth Avenue stores.

Folio Men’s Collections replaces the Men’s Collections title, which the company acquired in August 1998 with its purchase of Bullock & Jones. Saks stopped mailing the Men’s Collections in June ’99. “The catalog was lacking brand identity,” says Ann Acierno, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of the Folio catalogs, about the previous menswear book. Acierno says the company decided to take the Men’s Collections catalog concept, pair it with the Saks’ Folio brand, add Folio private-label menswear and position it as a new catalog. “We identified the market in which Saks had an opportunity to bring our brand identity into a men’s catalog,” Acierno says. The company has no plans to phase out its Bullock & Jones catalog.

While Saks did not mail a test catalog or survey its audience before deciding to launch the book, it did conduct some research, Acierno says. “We monitored the response rate of segments to our Men’s Collections catalogs and estimated what a future response might be to a new catalog,” she says, though she won’t cite specific results of the research. The company plans to mail the new menswear catalog five times a year.

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