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Canada's Fashion King - Peter Nygård looking to conquer U.S.

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DALLAS - In Canada's fashion circles, Peter Nygård is rated the #1 designer.


In other words, he's big enough to be known by his first name only.


Now, he's circling the United States, wooing retailers - and women - with a clothing collection that smacks of easy sophistication, interesting fabrics and texture.


The Peter Nygård Signature Collection debuted two years ago in 75 U.S.A Specialty stores, quickly expanding to nearly 200. In Oklahoma, the Peter Nygård Signature Collection is sold at Miss Jackson's in Tulsa; the more moderate line, Nygård Collection, is available at Dillard's.


"The best compliment for us is when a woman gets it on her body. It fits, it flatters, she'll have it forever," said Zenith Arreglado, Vice-President of U.S. Sales for Peter Nygård Signature. 


Italian fabrics, knits made in the Orient and value, a favorite word of Arreglado's, make the collection even more appealing.  



A checked coat over a textured top and pants, from Peter Nygård Signature- Spring collection




Peter Nygård's Spring 2002 collection includes a splash of red 




Spice shades mix with lighter hues in Peter Nygård's Spring collection



Nygård is competing with the big names while keeping his prices in check with what most women want to pay. There's no need for a jacket to cost more than $350, Arreglado said during market week at the International Apparel Mart.


The spring collection includes stretch linen, spice colors, metallic tweed jackets and colored leather.


Nygård, whose company is based in Canada, has been in business for more than 30 years and at one time was the in-house designer for Saks Fifth Avenue. He has several product lines, including Bianca Nygård, named after his daughter and geared to a younger, more hip customer.


His ready-to-wear business has annual sales of more than $500 million, quite a contrast to his meager beginnings when he borrowed $8,000 to invest in a small fashion company.


"In Canada, we're Kings," Arreglado said.


Most of the clothing is manufactured there, allowing the company to keep its prices lower than most bridge designers.


"We want to make sure the consumer gets that value," Arreglado said.


Nygård lives a life of the Rich and Famous with a mansion in the Bahamas and  A-list celebrity friends.  Each year he hosts an Oscar party and dinner.


Important causes aren't ignored either, including Breast Cancer awareness and the Nygård Challenge, where he matched what money people of the Bahamas raised to send some athletes to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. The female relay team [ The Golden Girls ] won a gold medal.


Nygård was guest Designer at International Apparel Mart, where his clothes were featured in a special segment on the runway.


"Women are more smart about fashion," he said by telephone, unable to make it to Dallas. "They're more informed. It's not the same blind trust they used to have. No one can go dictating to them."


One of Nygård's founding principles was to give the best value, which he said the customer appreciates and recognizes.


Now, he's ready to raise the fashion expectations in the United States.


"Our drive and positioning is that wherever we go to do business, we become a dominant force," said Peter Nygård.