By  on January 13, 2006

NEW YORK — Marc Ecko Enterprises has acquired the Avirex brand, well known for aviation-inspired leather outerwear.

Ecko acquired the brand and related trademarks for all existing product categories, including apparel, outerwear, leather and accessories worldwide, except for Europe and Japan, from Avirex Ltd., a company founded by Jeff and Jacky Clyman in 1975. The licenses for Europe and Japan were sold in 1996.

"It was an interesting proposition, and it was just time to let the baby out of the house," said Jacky Clyman, who declined to reveal the selling price. The transaction was brokered by Allen Ellinger, senior managing director of Marketing Management Group, a consulting firm here.

"Timing had a lot to do with it," Ellinger said. "Ecko was looking for a compelling brand to do midtier, which made them the perfect acquirer for the brand. It was a deal that was in everyone's best interest. It was a win-win for both parties."

A major player in the urban market, Marc Ecko Enterprises entered a licensing agreement in August 2004 with Avirex Ltd., through which Marc Ecko launched its Avirex-branded men's sportswear collection in spring 2005, with a women's collection to follow. The men's collection is available at J.C. Penney, Sears, Kohl's, Against All Odds, Dr. Jays and Jimmy Jazz.

Clint Cantwell, director of corporate communications for Marc Ecko Enterprises, said wholesale volume for the Avirex-branded men's sportswear collection is expected to reach $80 million to $90 million this year.

"We had been looking to get into the midtier marketplace and we wanted to do it with a brand that had an awareness to it so that we weren't starting from scratch," Cantwell explained. "We also didn't want to take away from our Ecko Unltd. business." Cantwell said the firm looked at several licensing opportunities and possible acquisitions before deciding to acquire Avirex.

"Avirex has a 30-year history, and consumers and retailers took to it right away," Cantwell said.

The acquisition includes the rights to Avirex Ltd.'s license with Kids Headquarters for boys' apparel and with Caccia Fashions Inc., the licensed distributor of Avirex for the Canadian market.Neither Marc Ecko, co-founder and chief executive officer, nor Seth Gerszberg, president and co-founder of Marc Ecko Enterprises, could be reached for comment Thursday.

Ecko, 33, is the youngest member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America's board. He founded Ecko Unltd. in 1993. In 2001, Marc Ecko Enterprises acquired Zoo York. Last year, Marc Ecko Enterprises generated $1.2 billion in retail sales.

Jacky Clyman said she's excited to get to work on her next project, a new collection she will launch with her husband. Clyman, who along with her husband sponsors the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport on Long Island in New York, said the new collection "draws from history even more so than Avirex has in the past." The collection will have a higher price point than Avirex and is inspired by Americana.

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