By and  on March 30, 2007

Calvin Klein Inc. is adding a little color to Cosmoprof this week.

That's where the company is unveiling the first pieces of cK Calvin Klein Beauty, its new color cosmetics collection with licensee Markwins International. It also marks the first time that CKI has been a part of Cosmoprof, the trade fair held each spring in Bologna, Italy.

The new cosmetics line, with upward of 200 stockkeeping units, is designed to appeal to a multicultural, fashion-forward consumer, said Tom Murry, CKI's president and chief operating officer. A full range of shades and textures are in the plans, along with foundations, eye shadows, lip colors, concealers, mascaras, lip and eye pencils, nail polish and makeup brushes. Price points, which average $15 to $18 per item in the U.S., are intended to be consistent with other entry-level prestige brands, said Murry.

Like the makeup done with its prior licensee, Unilever Cosmetics International (UCI), the Markwins incarnation features sleek Lucite compacts — although the newest versions are of black interior cases overmolded with clear Lucite and the cK Calvin Klein logo in white. The previous line used clear Lucite exclusively.

"To me, this specific product [line] is a total continuation of Calvin's aesthetic," said Fabien Baron, who designed the packaging for the new makeup lineup with CRK, Calvin Klein's in-house advertising agency. The last cosmetics line had sharp-edged compacts, while the new ones are square with rounded corners.

The new collection bears the moniker cK Calvin Klein Beauty, while the first used the Calvin Klein name. "The last makeup line was more of a Collection direction, while the new beauty line is more CK-related," said Baron. "Like CK, the new beauty brand is a little trendier than Collection, a little bit more fashion-forward and youthful."

Eric Chen, chief executive officer of Markwins, noted that the cosmetics will launch first in Italy in late May, followed by France in June and the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Mexico in September. In the U.S., the line will initially be sold in select Macy's doors, said Chen. Roughly 1,000 doors are planned for Europe, including both perfumeries and department stores. In October, Hong Kong will get the color line, followed by Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Shanghai and Beijing.A print advertising campaign, shot by David Sims in New York and featuring Dutch model Lara Stone, will begin appearing in fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines this summer.

None of the executives would discuss sales projections, although industry sources estimate that the Klein color line and upcoming skin care offerings could do $80 million at wholesale globally by year three and more than $200 million by year six. The Klein fragrances — for which Coty Prestige holds the license — are said to do upward of $1 billion globally at retail each year.

This is the third swing at cosmetics for Calvin Klein, which most recently worked with Unilever on color products bearing the Klein name. That collection, designed by Diane Kendal and introduced in 2000, was sold in about 120 doors worldwide. When it was phased out in 2003, its sales were estimated at about $15 million retail. An earlier collection had been released by Klein in the mid-Seventies and discontinued a few years later.

In September 2005, as the Markwins deal was signed, Murry said that while it took CKI awhile to settle on the right partner, he was confident that Markwins had the power to make the cosmetics brand a global powerhouse. "We all learned from the first makeup collection," said Murry at that time. "The product was very good, but our core competence wasn't color, and neither was UCI's. We both made mistakes, and we've both learned from them…we think now we have a partner who really understands color."

Murry said on Thursday, "You always learn from what you've done before, and our key learnings were in price positioning and distribution. We learned that you don't have to be in a large number of doors initially, and that it's important to fine-tune over time. We are controlling initial distribution much more with this new line, and I'm sure we will learn more the moment it hits stores."

The deal is also strategic for Markwins, which began as a promotional and gift-set source. It has integrated upward into the beauty business over the last several years, first by acquiring mass cosmetics brand Wet 'n' Wild and then adding a midtier department store color line, Soho Cosmetics. With the Calvin Klein line, Markwins is making an opening salvo into the prestige color business — and Chen isn't done yet. As skin care comprises roughly 60 percent of the Asian beauty market, Chen is working with CKI to create a skin care line, which is expected to be in store by the end of 2008. It will include some Asian-specific products, including skin whiteners, he said. Chen said he is also negotiating with a different brand partner to enter the prestige fragrance market.

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