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Carole Little, QVC Begin Joint Venture

<b>LOS ANGELES</b> — Joining designer-to-the-stars Bob Mackie, Carole Little is cozying up with customers in their living rooms. <br><br>Little’s multiyear agreement with QVC Inc. begins Thursday to sell the label, In Encore, exclusively...

LOS ANGELES — Joining designer-to-the-stars Bob Mackie, Carole Little is cozying up with customers in their living rooms.

Little’s multiyear agreement with QVC Inc. begins Thursday to sell the label, In Encore, exclusively through the cable channel’s American market and on its Web site.

Little, for her part, has enjoyed making personal appearances in the past for her former label, Carole Little, which ended in bankruptcy following an ill-fated merger with Chorus Line in 2000.

“I like television and feel very strongly about connecting with women and my customers,” Little said.

The 12-piece line blends structure and soft dressing with black denim jeans and fitted jackets in stretch viscose, as well as crinkled rayon and georgette items such as a flowing skirt, tunic, kimono jacket and pullover sweater. Aimed at a moderate customer ages 35 to 55, the sportswear line will offer sizes from small to 3X and retail at $39 to $89.

Expected to generate $10 million in sales by 2004, the QVC venture represents Little’s first label following the launch of her design house, Studio CL, two years ago with partner Leonard Rabinowitz.

Van Nuys, Calif.-based Cherokee Inc. acquired the trademarks of CL Fashion Inc., including Carole Little, last year. Rabinowitz said Carole Little merchandise is hitting TJX Cos. stores, which holds the license for the label, this month.

Until recently, the partners had devoted most of their efforts to private label development. Little ended a yearlong, $10 million deal with Teddi of California in April, designing private label product for Dillard’s Inc.

Now the partners are pursuing more lines, with a new one debuting for spring 2004. Also in the works is the opening of a 2,000-square-foot showroom in New York on Oct. 1.

In a separate development negotiated by Cherokee Inc., owners of the Carole Little trademark, Zhejiang Zuege Fashion Co. Ltd., a manufacturer and retailer in China, has been licensed to bring the Hot Kiss juniors label to China. The five-year agreement could result in 140 licensed stores, with about 40 on tap to debut this fall in major Chinese cities. Moshe Tsabag, chairman and chief executive of Hot Kiss, said the firm, in tandem with Cherokee, is exploring distribution and retailing arrangements in Japan and Europe as well.