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OUTTAKES THE SEQUEL

Puffed Rice

October 04, 1987|Jane Lieberman

New Retail Concepts, the 2-year-old company that makes the No Excuses clothes line, signed Donna Rice up as a spokeswoman last July. Then they paraded her out for a press conference to announce it--the same day that Gary Hart faced Ted Koppel. Early in September, they started airing jeans commercials with Rice claiming: "I make no excuses. I wear them." And more promos are due in the November issues of Glamour and Seventeen.

So, after all the public ballyhoo, how is the line selling?

"Phenomenally," according to Dari Marder, ad and p.r. director. "I know we made the right choice (with Donna). We're drawing on her name recognition. She's such a media sensation."

But what does that mean in concrete terms? "I hesitate to give the (figures) because (it's) competitive information," said exec veep Howard Frank, who predicted a $25-million profit by the end of this year for the "competitively priced" jeans, tagged at about $30 a pair.

Other New Retail execs couldn't agree on exactly where their line was marketed and were vague about quantities sold.

Marder claimed the jeans are "blowing out of Macy's" in the East. But an assistant buyer at Macy's NYC store told us they carry only the jean miniskirt. And as of Sept. 28, only eight had been sold from their stores' stock of 276.

Locally, Sears, Broadway, Bullock's, Robinson's and May Co. don't carry the jeans--and buyers told us they have no immediate plans to order them.

New Times, with four L.A. outlets, started selling No Excuses last April but hasn't reordered and won't, according to manager Mary Reeves: "They weren't moving until they went on sale."

Seattle-based Jay Jacobs carried the jeans before the Rice commercials appeared, said buyer Debbie McIntosh. The line sold because of the styling, price and the current popularity of acid-washed denims, added McIntosh, who didn't notice any increase in sales during or after the two weeks of commercials.

At Foxmore, a chain of 600 stores, "the items are selling fair," said general merchandise manager Bill Malanga, although only 150 stores carry No Excuses.

Owner-buyer Stella Tuley of Changes, a specialty chain in California, said she bought the denim line because of their reasonable price and availability--but was unaware when we called of Rice's association with the product.

Sales, she said, were moderate.

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