By  on February 13, 2008

SUN CAPITAL'S SUNNY OUTLOOK: Sun Capital Securities Group LLC's takeover of Kellwood Co. is all but complete. The private equity firm's $21-a-share cash tender offer for the $1.6 billion vendor didn't expire until midnight Tuesday, but as of 5 p.m. Monday, Sun Capital said 10,118,845 Kellwood shares had already been offered up. Combined with Sun Capital's existing 11.4 percent stake, the shares represent 57 percent of Kellwood's outstanding stock — more than the necessary majority to close the deal. If those shares weren't withdrawn Tuesday, Sun Capital said it would be able to pay for all tendered stock within days, while shares not offered up by midnight won't be paid until the deal is closed, which could take months.

MICHAEL PHELPS — Six Four AND 3-D: "It feels like a space suit," said Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps describing Speedo's new FS LZR Racer at a press conference Tuesday feting the elite suit. Hundreds of journalists; seven Olympic swimmers (Phelps, plus Natalie Coughlin, Dara Torres, Katie Ziegler, Katie Hoff, Ryan Lochte and Amanda Beard), all wearing the suit, and executives including Warnaco chief executive officer Joseph Gromek, filled E Space at 42nd Street and 11th Avenue in Manhattan to see a hologram presentation of the suit (a collaboration with Comme des Garçons) that athletes will wear at the Beijing Olympics in August. There were also events Tuesday in London, Tokyo and Sydney — plus the Manhattan one was Webcast.

To promote its spring collection, Tommy Hilfiger is launching a global ad campaign that it's calling "Carefree Confidence." Looking to the same Sixties golden-era glamour that inspired the sportswear, the campaign depicts a couple driving vintage sports cars on the speedway in Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats.

This latest installment of National Geographic-inspired advertising, photographed by Dewey Nicks, follows campaigns from the past three seasons that have paid tribute to the Yukon Territory, Monument Valley and Olympic National Park.

But unlike past campaigns that featured a group of friends, this focuses on a couple. "The images of this campaign juxtapose the enormity of the salt flats' emptiness with the intimacy of the couple's companionship," Tommy Hilfiger said.The campaign will break in March issues of Vogue, Vanity Fair, W, GQ, Esquire, Elle and Details, in addition to outdoor campaigns in New York, Milan, London and Brussels. The company declined to reveal its spring ad budget.

LULULEMON HEARTS NEW YORK: Lululemon Athletica Inc. has big plans for New York, with two stores slated to open this year. The yogawear firm, which has been rapidly expanding since going public last summer, has had a 2,500-square-foot store in Lincoln Center for more than a year. The new stores will be about 3,000 square feet each. In late spring, the first will open on the Upper East Side, at 66th Street and Third Avenue, and in early fall, Union Square, where Lululemon had a showroom for a few months at the end of last year. That showroom — which had to close due to foot traffic exceeding expectations (and agreements with the landlord) — bodes well for the Canadian brand's acceptance in Manhattan. Next up? "We would love to have a store in SoHo," a spokeswoman said.

The company has hired a new vice president of real estate operations, Angelia H. Powell, as it adds 30 stores this year. Powell previously was director of real estate at New York & Co. She will report to Christine Day, executive vice president of retail operations. Powell replaces Larry Gore, who will be moving into merchandise, planning and allocations as senior vice president.

SHOSHANNA CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY: Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss seems entirely too young to be celebrating a decade at the helm of her line. But a year after graduating from UCLA (where she'd worked at the West Coast retailer Tracey Ross and "realized it was possible for small lines to make it"), the Manhattan native did in fact launch three dresses in three shapes and three colors, giving birth to Shoshanna in 1998. "I started right out of college, and I wasn't scared to fail," she said. "I figured if it didn't work, I'd be 23."

In the last 10 years, Shoshanna's distribution has gone from 10 boutiques to 500 doors, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's. Along the way, Lonstein Gruss added swim in 2001 — which makes up more than a third of sales — and Shoshanna BabyGirl in 2005, after becoming a mother. The swimsuits also have added more covering options, like one-pieces."The line was born from my frustration with fashion, because all the dresses then were bias-cut slipdresses where you couldn't wear a bra, and that didn't fit me," the designer said. "When I started the line, I needed more going-out outfits. Now I need more work outfits and things that are appropriate for taking my daughter to school. Luckily, my core customers have grown up with me."

From 1999 to 2005, Shoshanna was in a 50-50 partnership with lingerie company Lady Ester, and since Lady Ester went bankrupt and Shoshanna went out on its own, the company has doubled revenues to $12 million, Lonstein Gruss said. Dresses wholesale from $150 to $220, and swim ranges from $60 to $80 per suit. Shoshanna plans to fete its anniversary with several collaborations, to be finalized and unveiled this year.

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