By  on August 6, 2008

LONDON — Marchpole Holdings plc, the London-based brand management group, has entered into a joint venture and strategic licensing agreement with Donna Karan International Inc. to source, design, produce and distribute a range of DKNY men’s wear.

Marchpole said DKI, part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, would be actively involved in the venture.

The British company will initially offer the DKNY Black Label men’s wear line for spring, with the possibility of producing further men’s wear lines for the label in the future. The agreement is for an initial period of seven years, with the option to extend it for another seven years. Marchpole did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. Marchpole, which also holds the license for Emanuel Ungaro men’s wear and owns the fashion house Jean Charles de Castelbajac, will distribute the DKNY Black Label line in North America, Europe, Africa, the South Pacific, Asia and the Middle East.

The Black Label line is targeted at the bridge market and comprises suits through outerwear. Marchpole said the collection will be offered to department and specialty stores, alongside DKNY’s retail network and 60 of its freestanding stores worldwide.

“This joint venture reflects our ongoing commitment to expanding our men’s product lines, and marks the next step in the evolution of our business,” said Mark Weber, chairman and chief executive of DKI. “We have been keenly aware of the real opportunity that exists to build the DKNY brand and capture the enormous potential in the men’s bridge market.”

The two companies have formed a new business, called Newco, to carry out the joint venture. Initially, 90 percent of Newco will be owned by Marchpole and 10 percent by DKI. The U.S. company has the option to increase its stake in Newco to up to 20 percent within the first seven years of the agreement. Weber will sit on the board of Newco, as will Tisha Kalberer, chief financial officer of DKI. Kalberer will have a nonvoting position on the board.

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