By  on June 3, 1994

NEW YORK -- Calvin Klein is bringing his runway esthetic of neutral-colored simplicity to the home.

Calvin Klein Inc. and Home Innovations Inc. confirmed Thursday that they have entered into a licensing agreement for a complete Calvin Klein Home collection through the creation of a new company, Calvin Klein Home Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of HII. Reports that Klein had signed a home furnishings deal appeared in these columns Thursday.

The agreement gives Calvin Klein Home the master license to the Calvin Klein name for North, Central and South America and Europe for what is expected to be a sweeping array of merchandise, such as bed and bath, furniture, silverware, wallpaper, dinnerware, glassware, giftware and floor coverings. It will be introduced at retail in fall 1995.

While neither Calvin Klein nor Robert Fotsch, president and chief executive officer of HII, would cite projected sales figures, Fotsch said he "would look to be in the volume range, eventually, of Ralph Lauren Home."

Ralph Lauren Home Collection, a division of Polo-Ralph Lauren Corp., has an estimated annual wholesale volume of $100 million, according to sources.

"We've looked at that business," said Klein, referring to the Ralph Lauren Home Collection, "and at others in the luxury world. We all see a real trend of people spending for luxury goods in the home. There's really great potential." HII and Klein were in negotiations for about a year, said Fotsch, after David Tracy, a director and chairman of HII -- and the man who helped launch the Lauren Home collection when J.P. Stevens was the master licensee -- suggested a meeting. Klein himself said he has been immersed in planning the home collection for six months.

"I've been looking at and working with everything I've collected over the past 20 years, from silver to towels and fabrics, to the shape of bowls and patterns in fabrics," said the designer. "There are so many things I've made for my [apparel] collections that I'm figuring out how to use for the home. There were so many things in my guest house over Memorial Day weekend that it looked like a store."This is so interesting because it's so close to what I do for ready- to-wear," he continued. "When I start thinking of throws and comforters, and then of the fabrics and clothes and patterns that I've sent down the runway, there is not that type of tonality and mix of patterns and texture in the home market now."

Klein said he had been approached about doing a home collection by Tracy about a decade ago, when Tracy was with Stevens. Klein wasn't ready to get into the home market then, he said, and Stevens later launched the Ralph Lauren Home collection. Polo-Ralph Lauren Corp. later took the division in-house, and Stevens continued as the home textiles licensee.

Tracy has been named chairman of Calvin Klein Home. Patsy Pollock, currently a vice president and director of marketing and licensing for Waverly, has been named president.

Tracy said he thinks Klein will offer a viable alternative to Lauren. "It's totally different, and I see the market moving to a cleaner, unadorned look....Calvin has such a feel for this stuff," Tracy said.

With wholesale volume of about $160 million, HII produces private label programs and the Home Innovations brand for department and specialty stores. Fotsch said HII wanted to develop a luxury brand in that area because it saw a "major league void" in the upper-end market. "You have Ralph Lauren and a little bit of Laura Ashley and then not much of anything," he said. "Calvin has a strong unaided brand recognition for consumers. And in particular, his look, as reflected by his clothes, is in demand right now"

Fotsch said he anticipates sub-licensing the Calvin Klein name to perhaps 10 firms to handle areas other than soft home textiles, which HII will produce itself. Klein said the Home showroom and sales offices eventually will be entirely in 205 West 39th St., where his other businesses are headquartered.

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