By  on September 1, 2013

Silver Jeans Co. reached halfway across its home market to find the licensee that will bring Silver’s children’s wear to the U.S. and Canada.

Winnipeg-based Silver has licensed Montreal-based Triple 5, a distributor of men’s, women’s and children’s apparel in both the U.S. and Canadian markets, to manufacture and market Silver children’s apparel in the two countries. The denim and sportswear will include boys’ and girls’ sizes, as well as newborn, infant and toddler wear.

Triple 5 will introduce Silver children’s for the fall 2014 season with retail prices that are expected to range from $35 to $60 for denim, $20 to $60 for sportswear and $60 to $80 for outerwear.

In addition to its rights as licensee in the U.S. and Canada, Triple 5 has been granted the right of first refusal for any international expansion of Silver children’s wear beyond North America.

“The first step would be Europe, and the next would be Asia,” said Vinit Soni, Triple 5’s New York-based executive vice president. “We’re not in a rush with this brand, which, being Canadian, we’ve been pretty close to for a long time. Strategically, we see that slow and steady will win, providing there’s a vision going forward, which Silver certainly has.”

Silver had provided small assortments of boys’ and girls’ wear over the 21 years of the brand’s existence to a number of its larger retail accounts, but had never offered either a full assortment of Silver for kids or designated a licensee in the area.

Michael Silver, chief executive officer of the brand, a unit of Western Glove Works, pointed out that the license with Triple 5 is the first granted by Silver but could serve as a template for future licensing associations.

“Ultimately, we’ll establish a true licensing division, similar to the way we approached retail,” he told WWD. “We’ve got companies interested in working with us on men’s big and tall and, especially with our stores getting started, accessories like belts and shoes and even scents would work for the brand, too.”

Silver disclosed plans for a retail division last year and thus far has opened stores in Woodlands, Tex., and the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Three more openings are slated for this year by the retail unit, which is under the direction of Denise Norkus, vice president. Silver expects to operate 25 to 30 stores within a five-year span and 50 over the course of the next 10 years.

Initially, the children’s wear won’t be included in Silver’s stores, which have footprints of 2,000 to 3,000 square feet. Targets will be Silver’s existing department and specialty store accounts and a number of children’s specialty boutiques in North America.

Silver noted that WGW and Triple 5 have a long history of doing business together. “When we first heard about them more than 20 years ago, people were telling us we had to meet the Soni family, that they were ‘fantastic Canadian sourcing guys,’” he said. “We really do share history, chemistry and business acumen and, because children’s wear is so closely related to what we’re already doing in jeans and sportswear, I had to be absolutely comfortable with the combination.”

That comfort level was elevated not only by Triple 5’s ongoing involvement as distributors of the Triple 5 Soul collection in Canada and the Pacific Rim but by its involvement with branded children’s apparel. Moving through an evolution that’s common among many companies founded as sourcing firms, Triple 5 previously launched the Coupe women’s sportswear collection and served as distributors for children’s wear under the Ben Sherman and French Connection brands. Coupe continues for the company; the relationships with Ben Sherman and French Connection have been discontinued.

Still, the company now does about 90 percent of its business in branded apparel, and its adult and children’s mix is “just about 50-50,” Soni said. Although the privately held firm doesn’t disclose sales, about 80 percent are generated in the U.S. and the remaining 20 percent in Canada. It continues to manufacture through third-party providers in India, China and Bangladesh.

While Silver likes to refer to itself as occupying the “midluxury denim market,” Soni notes that Silver, with jeans price points generally below $100, is “one level down from premium, with quality that’s just about as good and sometimes better.”

Western Glove Works is expected to generate sales of about $180 million this year, according to market estimates, up from about $160 last year. In May, WGW acquired Simply Blue, marketers of the Jag Jeans and Christopher Blue denim brands, from New York-based W Diamond Group Corp.

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