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Calvin Klein Signs Markwins Deal

The line will be branded under the cK Calvin Klein Beauty name. This confirms a report that appeared on May 11.

NEW YORK — For Calvin Klein, it’s cosmetics, round two.

Calvin Klein Inc.’s president and chief operating officer, Tom Murry, told WWD Monday afternoon during an exclusive interview that CKI will reintroduce the Calvin Klein cosmetics line for spring 2007, working with Southern California-based Markwins International. The line will be branded under the cK Calvin Klein Beauty name. This confirms a report that appeared on May 11.

The first incarnation of the Calvin Klein cosmetics line had been introduced in 2000 by Unilever Cosmetics International, which then held Klein’s beauty license. While the products were praised by retailers, the distribution was never expanded past its initial 120 doors worldwide. That first line was phased out in 2003, when its sales were estimated at about $15 million retail. Klein’s fragrance license was subsequently acquired in May by Coty.

In 2003, Murry said Calvin Klein — now a wholly owned subsidiary of Phillips-Van Heusen — “would continue to talk to a number of potential partners about continuing and expanding this business.”

On Monday afternoon, he said that, while it took awhile to settle on the right partner, he was confident that CKI had found one capable of making the cosmetics brand a global powerhouse.

“We all learned from the first makeup collection,” said Murry. “The product was very good, but our core competence wasn’t color, and neither was UCI’s. We both made mistakes, and we’ve both learned from them. UCI did a tremendous job on our fragrances, and they’ve handed over a powerful scent business to Coty. But we think now we have a partner who really understands color.”

Markwins will maintain a showroom featuring the cosmetics at its headquarters in Southern California, and Markwins affiliates also will operate similar showrooms in New York and key markets in Europe and Asia. CKI will stay very involved with product and distribution directions, said Murry, who added that pricing is expected to be on a par with the first line — roughly $14 to $50 at retail.

Murry noted that Markwins, which markets a line of color cosmetics under its own name in the mass market and also produces private label programs for midtier department stores, has the financial wherewithal and the manufacturing capabilities to make the new line successful. “Markwins was willing to invest whatever amount of money they needed in talent, manufacturing and distribution capabilities,” said Murry.

About 150 prestige market doors in the U.S. and an additional 100 doors in Europe and Asia — including travel-retail doors — will get the line in spring 2007. Skin care will follow in spring 2008. Ultimately, Murry said, the brand could well end up in about 800 doors in the U.S., and at least an equal number globally.

The new cosmetics line is intended to complement Calvin Klein’s core bridge apparel and accessories lines, and as such, said Murry, the product line will be fashioned to appeal to a multicultural, fashion-forward consumer. More than 300 stockkeeping units — ranging from foundations, eye shadows and lipsticks to mascara and nail polish — are expected to comprise the initial line. One aspect of the collection will be a core group of signature products that will be a constant in the line. The second aspect will be groupings of trend-driven colors that will change from season to season. As well, there will be a line created that will be exclusively distributed in travel-retail doors globally.

Murry said an “internationally known” makeup artist will front the line, but declined to say who, saying that the deal has not yet been finalized. An announcement is expected within the next two to three weeks regarding the artist.

Eric S. Chen, chairman and chief executive of Markwins, said in a statement, “We expect to capitalize on Calvin Klein’s successful global portfolio.”