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Kamali Back in Japan

TOKYO — Norma Kamali is coming back to the Japanese market this spring through Renown Next Stage Inc., which will produce and sell her line under license.<BR><BR>The American designer was present in the Japanese market from 1983 to 1999, when her...

TOKYO — Norma Kamali is coming back to the Japanese market this spring through Renown Next Stage Inc., which will produce and sell her line under license.

The American designer was present in the Japanese market from 1983 to 1999, when her licensing agreement with the then Renown Inc. was terminated. At the time, she was one of the best-known designers in Japan, popular among young Japanese women, including college students.

Kamali was in Tokyo last week to finalize arrangements with her new Japanese licensee, which is a unit of Renown D’Urban Holdings Inc. For spring 2005, according to Renown executives, she is introducing a line of her unique “Multi Use” clothes featuring Lycra spandex fabrics and a collection of about 50 denim items. For example, there will be a multidress that is normally worn as a tunic dress but can be turned into a drape dress or into tops worn with a chain belt.

Instead of following fashion trends, Kamali will emphasize her distinctive designs and target a select clientele “who can really appreciate the artist’s creativity,” Renown executives said. For spring, black will be a core color along with bright shades of navy blue, green and red.

The line will initially be sold in specialty stores but eventually be extended to department stores and other retail outlets with plans to set up directly operated shops. Sales are projected to reach 3 billion yen, or $27.3 million at current exchange rates, in the third year of business.

Renown D’Urban resulted from a merger between Renown Inc. and D’Urban Inc. last March. The master licensing agreement is actually between Norma Kamali and Renown America Inc., the New York-based subsidiary of the Japanese group, which maintained a business relationship with the designer in the U.S. after the termination of the contract in Japan five years ago.

According to Renown here, core prices will be: jackets, 18,000 yen to 28,000 yen, or $164 to $255; coats, 26,000 yen to 28,000 yen, or $236 to $255; cut-and-sewn knits, 6,000 yen to 12,000 yen, or $54.50 to $109; skirts, 10,000 yen to 21,000 yen, or $91 to $191; pants, 12,000 yen to 25,000 yen, or $109 to $227, and dresses, 18,000 yen to 28,000 yen, or $164 to $255.

This story first appeared in the October 15, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.