Despite the tight credit markets and fears over a recession, Sean “Diddy” Combs on Tuesday revealed he has acquired the Enyce brand from Liz Claiborne Inc.
While terms of the deal were not disclosed, sources said Combs’ company, Sean John, purchased the flailing urban label for $20 million. The Enyce acquisition also includes all rights and trademarks for the RSRV men’s line, which Claiborne launched in top urban specialty stores in September 2007. The purchase of these brands adds to Combs’ overall portfolio of labels, which includes the Zac Posen brand.
Combs said he plans to aggressively build Enyce, a brand that he has always admired.
“I see this opportunity in a similar way that I do with my music,” Combs said. “I take a song and remix it to make it a hit. We are going to do the same thing with Enyce.”
Combs said he already has a team in place at Sean John hard at work brainstorming new ideas for Enyce. He said that over the next few months, the team will look at new distribution possibilities, innovative ways to market the brand as well as a new design strategy. He said he plans to hold on to the Lady Enyce business and expand it along with the men’s wear.
“I look forward to adding our expertise to an already hot fashion line,” he said. “Our long-term plan is to grow the Enyce brand through innovative marketing, expansion of the men’s wear and boys’ lines, and launching into new licensing categories. The current economic climate may be challenging, but we believe it is also an opportunity, and we are really excited to add Enyce to our lineup.”
Combs said he has been friends with one of Enyce’s founders, Tony Shellman, for years.
“I just spoke to him this morning,” he said on Tuesday. “He is really excited. He said he feels that the brand is now in good hands. Enyce has always been his baby.”
In November 2003, Claiborne purchased Enyce for $114 million from Sport Brands International, marking the apparel giant’s first foray into the urban apparel sector. At the time, Enyce was at the top of its game, on track to bring in about $95 million in wholesale volume that year. Since then the brand has slowed down, along with the entire hip-hop apparel sector. Analysts said earlier this year that the brand was bringing in more than $100 million in wholesale volume, but it had lost some of its street cred under Claiborne’s umbrella. The Enyce product, which was founded in 1996 by Evan Davis, Lando Felix and Shellman, wasn’t selling like it once was and Claiborne dramatically decreased the Lady Enyce junior sportswear assortment last year.
“As we continue to implement our strategy of building powerful brands, we determined that we can’t properly maximize the potential of Enyce,” William McComb, chief executive officer of Claiborne, said. “Enyce is a strong brand with a loyal customer following; however, the unsettled economic environment and our commitment to properly resource and focus on other brands in our portfolio contributed to this decision.”
The decision to sell Enyce comes after McComb said in January that the company would keep it after a lack of adequate offers.
At that time, Claiborne planned to house the urban label under its partnered brands division and further invest in the brand’s advertising and e-commerce. In addition, it intended to adjust to a less baggy fit; reduce suggested retail prices by about 15 to 20 percent; pull back on product for 2008 to match supply with demand, and expand the RSRV line. The brand is still in more than 1,000 doors, although it lost its number-one customer, D.e.m.o., with its more than 150 doors that are closing.
In September 2003, the Sean John business was infused with a $100 million investment from California billionaire Ron Burkle, which Combs said at the time would give his company a boost toward becoming a $1 billion brand. Sources said Combs blew through that cash quickly. But, five years later, he is halfway to $1 billion, with sales driven by women’s and men’s outerwear, which is produced under a licensing agreement with G-III Apparel Group Ltd., and fragrances, which are produced by the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.
The fragrances in particular have been a hit for Combs and Lauder — Unforgivable for Men, which launched in 2006, does about $150 million globally, Unforgivable for Women brings in about $45 million and the third, I Am King, will launch exclusively at Macy’s in December. Lauder executives predict I Am King will generate about $100 million globally.
On the apparel front, men’s wear hasn’t been too much of a challenge for Sean John. Women’s, on the other hand, has been through a series of hiccups. The holiday 2007 introduction of the Sean John junior line (which was also produced by G-III) was his second official attempt at launching a women’s collection. After poor retail performance, that line was shuttered in January. His contemporary line, Sean by Sean Combs, closed in March 2006 after being offered at retail for less than a year. That collection, produced in-house, raked in $3.5 million in wholesale volume during its first six months on the selling floor. While that isn’t considered bad for a new contemporary designer collection, it isn’t the high volume Combs is used to seeing: At the time, he did $450 million at retail with Sean John men’s, which he claims now generates $525 million in retail volume.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews