By  on January 15, 2008

NEW YORK — Elie Tahari is kicking off his worldwide retail expansion.

Tahari inked an exclusive distribution deal and retail licensing partnership with Istanbul-based Unitim Holding for Turkey and Romania. As part of the agreement, Unitim will open five Elie Tahari-branded stores in the two regions over the next five years. The flagship is slated to open in Istanbul next fall, offering the women's and men's wear collections with interior design details culled from architect Piero Lissoni's design concept for the East Hampton, N.Y., flagship that opened last August.

The deal is expected to be the first of several international deals for Tahari, who already wholesales his collection in some upscale specialty stores in Europe and Asia. Istanbul would mark the designer's first overseas store.

"With Unitim Group's extensive knowledge of the retail market in Turkey and Romania, we are confident this partnership will allow Elie Tahari Ltd. to continue to strengthen our brand's presence worldwide," said Tahari, who serves as chairman and chief executive officer of his company.

Unitim was responsible for bringing Harvey Nichols to Turkey in 2006, and has worked with such brands as Chanel, Bally and Manolo Blahnik in Turkey.

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