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The family-owned conglomerate Jerry Leigh has added David Lerner to its portfolio of brands.
This story first appeared in the March 6, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
With the acquisition, Jerry Leigh adds a contemporary label to its women’s division, with the aim of further expanding its distribution in department stores and boutiques. The company already has divisions for men’s, juniors, kids and resort, selling products in all tiers of distribution.
With the financial support of the $400 million Jerry Leigh, David Lerner, who started the company that bears his name, said he expects to more than double his annual $5 million wholesale volume in the next 12 months. Known for leggings, David Lerner will introduce sport, maternity, bags, shoes and accessories in 2014, as well as open its first freestanding store in New York.
Andrew Leigh, president of the company that his father founded in 1962, said, “Under new leadership, the David Lerner brand will continue to strive to create a product that reflects the consumer lifestyle.”
In 2008, Lerner, an NYU grad, started his own company selling leggings as a one-man operation near Costco in Brooklyn’s Industry City Bush Terminal. After learning through research that women tend to be extremely brand loyal about their favorite bra labels, Lerner hoped that would carry over to leggings. In an interview Monday, he said he used all of his $50,000 savings (from his bar mitzvah money and money he earned throwing parties at NYU) to get the David Lerner Collection up and running. Initially he opened accounts like Kitson by walking into stores unannounced and showing retailers 10 samples.
Last year the company generated $5 million in wholesale volume, and that figure should range between $10 million and $12 million this year, Lerner said. Now based in the Meatpacking District, the David Lerner collection is American made. Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Shopbop.com are among the accounts.
High-profile customers like Leighton Meester and Jessica Alba have helped raise awareness about the brand. With 25 employees in New York and Los Angeles, Lerner spends 10 days a month in his West Coast office and he said he is speaking with Ryan Seacrest about a potential reality show.
With Jerry Leigh’s support, Lerner will now focus solely on design, sales and marketing without being bogged down by production and shipping. Lerner will soon have his first look book and ad campaign, and a concept shop with Fred Segal by the end of the year.
With offices and production facilities in Los Angeles; New York; Orlando, Fla.; Guatemala; Ensenada, Mexico, and Shanghai, Jerry Leigh has a 1,000-plus-person team. Jerry Leigh’s selected brands include Disney, Hasbro, Marvel, Hello Kitty and Sony, among others.