PARIS — The clouds have parted for venerable Paris-based fashion house Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, which has been acquired by South Korean sportswear designer and retailer EXR Korea Co., which has held the brand’s Asian license for the past three years.
As part of the restructuring of the brand, which went into receivership in May, 18 out of its 24 employees will be kept on.
Florida-based Falic Group, which owns Christian Lacroix, and Dominique Bergin, president of bicycle maker Look Cycle, were among others circling around the brand since its previous owner, The Sixth Swedish National Pension Fund, withdrew funding. However, Falic Group pulled out of the running over the summer.
Founder Jean-Charles de Castelbajac will remain artistic director of his namesake brand, which will present its spring collection, titled Rustica Galactica, here on Oct. 4.
“I’m feeling rather emotional about the symbolic dimension of what’s happening,” said the designer, who founded the company in 1979. “I have always been creative and quite alternative, so to have [EXR’s] marketing and business know-how on my side is incredible.”
EXR, which also owns the Asian licenses for Kappa and Converse and has its own sportswear brand, intends to focus on developing the de Castelbajac brands in Europe before pushing into foreign markets, including the U.S., from next year.
Future initiatives include a chain of youth-oriented JCDC by JC de Castelbajac hotels for the Asian market, which will sell the line’s affordable-luxury-positioned lifestyle range; the creation of a new infrastructure for developing JCDC by JC de Castelbajac licenses; and the launch of a new preppy line next season, called Castelbajac, which will be positioned between the brand’s premium JC de Castelbajac line and the JCDC by JC de Castelbajac diffusion line.
Nicky Kohn, EXR’s legal adviser, said the plan is to grow the brand’s turnover to 15 million euros, or $19.87 million, within the next three years, from around 4 million euros, or $5.28 million, in 2010. Dollar figures are converted at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.
EXR, which owns 100 percent of the brand’s capital, plans to make de Castelbajac a shareholder in the near future, Kohn said, without disclosing specifics.
EXR operates 700 stores in Korea and 120 stores in China. The Jean-Charles de Castelbajac brands are distributed in around 240 doors, with two stand-alone stores in Paris.
Known for his cartoonish, Pop Art-inspired creations and quirky fashion shows, de Castelbajac’s iconic creations include the blanket coat and the teddy bear coat. Celebrity followers include Katy Perry, Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga.
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