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Asia Watch: Cacharel And Carry…Singapore Fling…Taming The Crocodile

<b>CACHAREL AND CARRY:</b> In a move to shore up its business in Asia, Cacharel on Monday said it had signed licensing and distribution agreements with Itochu Fashion System to distribute its men’s, women’s and children’s lines in...

CACHAREL AND CARRY: In a move to shore up its business in Asia, Cacharel on Monday said it had signed licensing and distribution agreements with Itochu Fashion System to distribute its men’s, women’s and children’s lines in Japan. The contract will come into effect on Jan. 1.

IFS, part of Japan’s Itochu Corporation, already holds the license for Cacharel’s women’s wear. The new accord is part of a strategy to expand sales threefold over the next five years. Japan accounts for 20 percent of its ready-to-wear sales, Cacharel said.

Last year, women’s rtw and children’s apparel, both produced in-house, generated $41.1 million, or 35.1 million euros. Licenses accounted for about $46.8 million, or 40 million euros, while the fragrance business brought in about $187.2 million, or 160 million euros.

Meanwhile, in a related announcement, Cacharel said its collaboration with British design duo Suzanne Clements and Inacio Ribeiro would be renewed for another three years. Since Clements Ribeiro arrived in 2000, Cacharel, a family-controlled firm known for its youthful sportswear, has shifted its image upscale, capturing accounts in the U.S. such as Nordstrom and Barneys New York. — Robert Murphy

SINGAPORE FLING: Two Versace stores have bowed in Singapore at the recently opened Paragon Mall on Orchard Road, the city-state’s most popular shopping avenue. The Versace boutique, which has an area of about 2,100 square feet, is located on the first level of the shopping center and carries Versace men’s wear, women’s ready-to-wear, accessories and the brand’s home collection. A 900-square-foot Versus boutique that carries the Versus and VJC lines for both men and women is located on the mall’s second floor.

Both shops had soft openings on Sept. 23 and grand openings on Oct. 17. To mark the occasion and to celebrate the debut of a Versace store in Tokyo, the company created a limited-edition “Donatella” T-shirt for sale exclusively in the Far East. The T-shirt, which is limited to 1,000 pieces, features a Warhol-inspired image of Versace’s creative director, Donatella Versace.

Versace opened its first store in Asia in Singapore in 1990. In 2002, the company signed a distribution agreement with Gamut Marketing Pte, which now operates three Versace stores in Singapore, as well as Versace and Versus shops in Malaysia. Both parties declined to estimate sales figures for the new Singapore stores, although one executive reported a waiting list is already accumulating for Versace’s leather Biker bag in beige and white. Twenty of the brown waist bags were sold over the opening weekend.

— Constance Haisma-Kwok

TAMING THE CROCODILE: After 10 years of legal wrangling, Lacoste and Crocodile Garments have settled a patent infringement suit. The suit stemmed from the use of a left-facing crocodile logo by Hong Kong-based Crocodile Garments that is very similar to the right-facing Lacoste logo.

Although Crocodile Garments has used its croc on shirts since 1952, it had signed a distribution agreement with Lacoste in 1980. That deal gave Crocodile exclusive rights to distribute Lacoste goods in Hong Kong, while Lacoste retained distribution rights outside of Hong Kong. The dispute arose when Crocodile registered its emblem in China, Denmark and Britain, a move Lacoste considered a breach of agreement.

In the settlement, Crocodile Garments has agreed to modify the curvature of its crocodile’s tail. It also will refrain from using the color green on its logo and it will not seek to distribute the brand beyond Hong Kong, Macau and China. The company is expected to unveil its new logo in mid-2004, but has until March 2006 to sell existing products.

In a joint statement, the companies said they will now concentrate their efforts on fighting piracy in mainland China. “I feel relieved to finally walk out of a miserable decade of lawsuits,” said Crocodile Garments deputy chief executive Sunny Chung. “Now we can deal with piracy and develop our business.”

Crocodile currently has 900 stores in China, with plans to open another 700 by 2006. — C.H.K.