Historic ragtrade firm Bennett Clothing will launch a new womenswear division and expand its workwear offering in 2011 after welcoming new family members to its board.

The director of the manufacturing and importing business, Matthew Bennett, revealed his son David and daughter Kristina joined Bennett Clothing late this year. Kristina and business partner Kylie Dzarir will spearhead a new womenswear division, Brief Me Fashion, under the Bennett Clothing umbrella.

Brief Me Fashion will launch two young women's labels, Brief Me Easywear and Ruffle & Roll, in January 2011.

“They'll be targeting Bras N Things, Jeanswest, Dotti, Just Jeans, Jacqui E, Portmans, Valleygirl, Myer, Pretty Girl Fashion Group, Noni B, Specialty Fashion Group and David Jones,” Matthew Bennett said.

The first collection from each label will be spring/summer 2011/12. Retail price points for both brands will stretch from $10 to $80 and garments will be manufactured in Bennett Clothing's factory in Thailand.

“By using the resources and extensive experience of Bennett Clothing, maintaining low overheads and removing costly middlemen, we are able to offer the middle market quality runway style designs without the large price tag attached,” Kristina Bennett said.

Meanwhile, Bennett Clothing will also ramp up its workwear offering in 2011, expanding its range to include cargo pants, a cotton drill shirt and a workman's shirt. The company is also working to tap new markets, including South Africa.

The move comes on the back of a dedicated effort to undercut the local workwear market over the past three years.

“Step by step we're taking over the workwear business because people are paying way to much for it,” Matthew Bennett said. “If I see someone selling something at $20 wholesale that I know I can carbon copy and sell it for $5.50 without the Yakka brand name, well that's what we do in a nutshell.”

The company currently sells workwear to discount retailers under brand names such as Safety-B-Ware, Black Oz Rock and Public Enemy. Matthew Bennett credited the company's vertical operation and large order book as factors contributing to its capacity to provide garments at a low price.

“We cut every corner. I don't have infrastructure in Australia like all my opposition do, I don't have a warehouse that's costing $10,000 a month. I got rid of all that 20 years ago.”

The Bennett family has been involved in the apparel trade for five generations, with the Ron Bennett menswear brand among its creations. Ron Bennett is now owned and operated by Corporate Apparel Group.

Erin O'Loughlin

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