By  on May 25, 2005

NEW YORK — Calvin Klein Inc. is crossing the global bridge again.

The company said Tuesday that it has signed a licensing deal with an affiliate of Italian manufacturer Fingen SpA to reintroduce CK Calvin Klein apparel and accessories in Europe and the Middle East. Starting next spring, CKI and the licensee will distribute the bridge collection in department stores and relaunch a CK retail network in those regions. The plan is to open more than 50 freestanding CK Calvin Klein boutiques over the next five years in cities such as Milan, Paris, London, Berlin, Madrid and Dubai.

Since Phillips-Van Heusen acquired CKI in 2003, the company has invested more heavily in its bridge business, relaunching CK in the U.S. in an agreement with G.A.V. and strengthening the distribution of the label throughout Asia.

"The CK bridge business is a very important part of our brand architecture," said Tom Murry, president and chief operating officer of Calvin Klein Inc. "We have been working for a long time to get back into the bridge business in apparel, in footwear and accessories on a global business. And we have been judiciously getting back into the business region by region, being careful to make sure we are with qualified partners who share our long-term vision."

The company previously had a CK Calvin Klein global agreement with Stefanel, which was terminated in 2001.

"The approach we have taken this time is to be more regional, and find partners in each region that really understood their individual markets and specialized in those markets," said Murry. "We have a global identity, which is maintained by creative director Kevin Carrigan, but as important as the global identity is regional specialization."

Currently, CK-branded sportswear, suits, furnishings and handbags are distributed by Onward Kashiyama in Japan. CKI has a deal with Club 21 for CK Calvin Klein men's and women's sportswear, men's tailored clothing and furnishings, women's and men's dress shoes, women's handbags and small leather goods for Southeast Asia. Club 21 plans to operate 15 CK stores in regions such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia by yearend.

Fingen, which is also the licensee for Calvin Klein Jeans in Europe and Asia, will operate the CK Calvin Klein showroom in CKI's Milan headquarters.CKI expects the CK bridge business to rake in up to $580 million in the next five to seven years.

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