NEW YORK -- Is Kathie Lee Gifford about to become to Wal-Mart what Jaclyn Smith is to Kmart?
Sources claim that Gifford's three-year-old dress line with Halmode Apparel, called Kathie Lee for Plaza South, will be dropped at the end of the year, and a new deal has been signed with an unknown manufacturer to produce a new line of dresses and sportswear aimed at the mass market, notably Wal-Mart. The Jaclyn Smith line, a private label collection sold at Kmart, racks up an estimated volume of $150 million, according to industry analysts.
Robert Adler, chairman and chief executive officer of Halmode, which last week signed a definitive agreement to be bought by Kellwood Co., denies the reports.
"We are in negotiations to renew the license," Adler said. "I have every reason to believe that it will be renewed. We have a renewal option on the contract, and I feel we have lived up to the conditions for renewal."
Adler said his company is currently shipping Kathie Lee fall merchandise to the moderate-price department stores that carry the line and is showing early spring in the showroom, also to department stores. He expects the Kathie Lee line, which features career and social occasion dresses, to have a volume of about $50 million this year.
A spokeswoman for Gifford said Thursday that any questions concerning the dress collection should be referred to Adler. She said Gifford "had nothing to announce right now" about the dress line.
A Wal-Mart spokesman said he "was unaware of any deal" between the store and Gifford.
Meanwhile, Gifford was on "The Late Show With David Letterman" Wednesday night hawking her new exercise video, called "Kathie Lee's Feel Fit and Fabulous Workout." Produced and marketed by Video Treasures, Troy, Mich., the video is being sold through mass market chains and music video stores, according to Sandy Weisenauer, vice president of marketing for Video Treasures.
Among the stores carrying the video are Kmart, Wal-Mart, Target, Musicland and Sam Goody.
As for whether the dress line would shift its distribution to the mass market, as sources have indicated, Adler said, "We have had discussions with many people about future distribution, but nothing has been decided yet beyond spring."However, the move to mass wouldn't be a new road to travel for Halmode, which Adler projects will have sales of about $160 million this year.
In addition to the licensed Kathie Lee line and the companion proprietary Plaza South line, Halmode operates three dress divisions. The M.H.M. unit sells popular-priced dresses under the division's name, as well as the Sunshine/Starshine and private label programs to mass merchants.
Vintage Blue/Vintage Dress, based in Los Angeles, markets branded and private label junior dresses and sportswear to chains and department stores.
In addition, there is a Plus Sizes and Petite Sizes division, which produces dresses under Halmode and Kathie Lee and private labels. Other divisions include uniforms, sold under the Snowbird, Sunshine Alley and licensed Nurse Mates names, and maternity, under the Great Times label.
“I think what’s so interesting about the #MeToo movement and this whole new wave of feminism in general, is that women are finally seeing, ’Oh I can start my own company, oh I can lear to code, oh I can leave my nine-to-five job and do the thing I want to do,” said @brooklyndecker ahead of her @sxsw talk for @createcultivate. The former model took the stage to share wisdom about networking and female-driven entrepreneurship. #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech at the @sxsw conference for @createcultivate, the online platform and conference series for women. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.