By  on December 5, 1994

NEW YORK - Has Calvin struck again? In what appears to be his second major recruiting coup in little more than six months, Calvin Klein has tapped into Donna Karan's company and hired DKNY president Denise Seegal to head the CK Calvin Klein business, according to sources. Klein reportedly has courted Seegal for 10 weeks. The expected move reflects not only Klein's determination to build CK bridge sportswear into a major business -- "bigger than DNKY," one source said -- but Seegal's defection also marks the first key strategic hiring under Garbriella Forte, Klein's president. Forte's own hiring by Klein away from her number-two post at Giorgio Armani late last May stunned fashion circles. It was apparently the first move of many as Klein continues to add muscle to his management team.

Forte's mission involves aggressive growth in the U.S. and internationally for the various Klein businesses. In a swift series of financial and licensing deals as well as product developments, Klein has rebounded dramatically from a crisis that threatened the company's financial stability in 1992.

Seegal became executive vice president of DKNY with the startup of the label in September 1988 and became president of the division in March 1989. Before joining Karan, she was executive vice president-women's wear at Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. from 1983 to 1988.

Under Seegal, DKNY has grown into a department store powerhouse doing nearly $200 million in wholesale volume. It is recognized as a trailblazer in the fiercely competitive bridge business. Its latest tactic was a move into international distribution, and the division recently opened a shop in London that's believed to be the first of many overseas developments.

Seegal's hiring is expected to accelerate Klein's and Forte's plans to quickly build CK, complete with product extensions and worldwide store openings, according to sources.

Klein and Forte were traveling in the Far East and could not be reached for comment at press time. Barry Schwartz, chairman of Calvin Klein Inc., declined to comment.

CK first appeared in 1992 as a reworking of Calvin Klein Sport, which had been a line primarily of better-price casualwear, into a collection of sophisticated bridge-price sportswear. The CK label was also adopted for the designer's jeanswear, which, as reported, was taken over in a licensing deal in August by a new company, a joint venture between Rio Sportswear and Charterhouse Group International.

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