NEW YORK — Juicy Couture is stepping into the footwear category through a partnership with Steven Madden Ltd. The line will be available internationally in spring 2015 in Juicy Couture stores, shops-in-shop, select department stores and online at the brand’s Web site. Financial terms of the license were not disclosed. The agreement, inked by brand management firm Authentic Brands Group, which owns Juicy Couture’s intellectual property assets, provides for the footwear firm to be the international exclusive partner for the design, sourcing and manufacturing of all lines in the women’s category. The higher-priced line, starting at $80 and going up to $200, will be available internationally, while a lower-priced collection referred to as the midtier line will come later and is expected to be sold primarily at department store doors in the U.S. Other terms of the agreement between ABG and Steven Madden also were not disclosed, although ABG typically works on long-term agreements with its partners. Those agreements tend to comprise of an initial 10-year arrangement, with two 10-year option periods.RELATED STORY: Authentic Brands Group Discusses Expansion Plans for Juicy Couture >>Jamie Salter, chairman and chief executive officer of ABG, said in an interview at the Juicy showroom, “We had multiple choices, but Steven Madden knows how to make fun shoes that are very on trend. They are not followers, but leaders in footwear. Juicy is the leader in fun product and Steve Madden knows how to hit that down the fairway.”According to Salter, one added benefit to partnering with Steven Madden is because the company “understands the international business. They can ship to the Middle East, Asia, Turkey and Russia. They understand what’s going on in those places.…It’s not just about designing shoes, and although product is very important, it’s also about logistics too.”Steve Madden, founder and chief creative officer of his namesake firm, was effusive in his enthusiasm for the new line.“Juicy is a fantastic brand. It is as American as apple pie,” Madden said. He spoke about how 14 years ago he was in discussions with Juicy founders Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor regarding a footwear line for the brand. Those discussions didn’t pan out since “they wanted to do expensive shoes, about $400 a pair,” Madden said.He was introduced to Salter by Jonathan D. Sokoloff, managing partner at private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners (which owns a majority stake in ABG), who knew both from his days at Hambrecht & Quist, an investment bank that underwrote the initial public offerings of Apple, Netscape and Amazon in the Nighties.Madden’s firm earlier this year partnered with Brian Atwood to acquire the Brian Atwood IP assets, and is also working on the contemporary B Brian Atwood line. The move to produce other lines in addition to the Steve Madden brand is about growth opportunities for the footwear firm.“One has to grow. This is a great growth idea. We are leveraging the assets we have, and this is easily incrementally accretive for us,” Madden said.He believes there’s a strong growth opportunity for the Juicy brand, given where it is being sold internationally.“In many other countries, women are getting their own voice and are becoming more powerful in expressing themselves through fashion, particularly in Asia and Africa.…They are our new customers. Former Presidents Carter and Clinton are doing more to empower women. The Steven Madden business is great in the Middle East,” the footwear design chief said.Most of the Juicy product is produced in Mexico and China, with some sandals made in Italy, Madden said. Next up for Juicy will likely be a foray into intimates and lingerie, said Nick Woodhouse, president and chief marketing officer. The brand already has a sleepwear component to its product offering, but is likely to consider a joint venture partner for its planned bra and panty line and will work with Global Brands Group (the wholesale branded business of Li & Fung Ltd. that is designing and manufacturing the apparel products for the Juicy brand) in determining how best to move on that category front.GBG houses the Juicy showroom at its new offices in the Empire State Building. The showroom replicates a Juicy store, using fixtures, signage and an oversize chandelier from former Juicy stores, including the trademark glowing pink lighting reflected on its ceiling. According to Salter, there are plans to change the adjacencies within Juicy’s own freestanding stores. “Starting in the U.S. in 2015, we’ll be starting new store layouts. The ‘House of Juicy’ will have a footwear department, an apparel department and departments for accessories and fragrance,” he said, noting that the new layout will have a department store feeling that allows the Juicy customer to better target a product category once she enters the retail space. Neither Madden nor Salter or Woodhouse are anticipating freestanding Juicy footwear and accessories stores in the U.S., but are open to that possibility overseas where smaller retail footprints in select locations could cater to the travel shopper.
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