NEW YORK — Carlos Falchi may have finally met the right partner.
The Brazilian-born handbag designer has inked a licensing agreement with LF USA, severing ties with former licensing partner Artisan House, the luxury handbag division of school supplies and backpack maker Fab/Starpoint, WWD has learned.
The multiyear, renewable deal with Li & Fung Ltd.’s U.S. division will allow Falchi to broaden his reach into international markets, according to LF USA president Rick Darling.
Currently, Falchi accessories are sold at Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, Saks Fifth Avenue and on Neiman Marcus’ Web site — and that won’t change.
“With our strong presence in Europe and growing distribution capabilities in Asia, we are uniquely positioned to take the brand global,” Darling said, referring to expansion in Europe, South America and Asia. “Those plans are being formulated now and we will begin international distribution as quickly as feasible.”
The Falchi brand, which will continue to manufacture in New York, will launch LF USA’s new luxury fashion accessories and home division. It also joins a fashion portfolio that includes Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Rachel Zoe and House of Deréon.
According to LF USA, Falchi will continue to manage the front end of his business, but he and his team will report to Robin Marino, group president of LF USA fashion accessories and home, who will work on building the brand platform.
“Robin is really putting together an aggressive plan. I’m very involved and that’s not going to change,” Falchi said. “We will be extending and growing what we already have. I have always been looking for the correct partner. With Robin, I feel very secure.”
Although Falchi called the split with former licensee Fab/ Starpoint “amicable,” market sources said the relationship was strained.
“Basically, it was a difference of mind-set,” Falchi said. “We had handbags, but we wanted to grow the business into other categories like shoes and jewelry.”
The designer, who built his brand in the Sixties by outfitting musicians like Mick Jagger, Miles Davis, Tina Turner and Eric Clapton with costumes made from exotic animal skins and hand-created patchwork, added that there was a “struggle of deliveries” with his former licensing partner.
“Every artist would like to have a good delivering time,” he said.
Falchi signed with Fab/ Starpoint’s Artisan House just a year ago in what had been reported as a five-year licensing deal that would bring in at least $120 million in retail sales.
“I have the utmost respect for Carlos Falchi as an artist and I consider him a life long friend,” said chief executive officer of Fab/ Starpoint and Artisan House. “I am very proud of what we have accomplished together at Artisan House and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”
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