NEW YORK — The courtship is ending. Now it’s time for a $140 million hip-hop wedding.

Kellwood Co. has signed a definitive agreement to purchase Phat Fashions, the hip-hop-inspired apparel company owned and run by Russell Simmons, for $140 million in cash — plus what could be significant incentives that were not quantified.

WWD was the first to report last September that the two companies were in talks about a deal.

Phat Fashions will become a subsidiary of Kellwood with Simmons remaining in charge as chief executive. Simmons’ wife, Kimora Lee Simmons, will continue to head Baby Phat, the firm’s junior line, as president and creative director.

The transaction is expected to close in early February and be modestly accretive to Kellwood’s earnings in its first year.

Hal Upbin, chairman and ceo of Kellwood, said the company he heads had risen to meet Simmons’ challenge to the apparel market, first made two years ago, to realize the potential of the $10 billion urban market.

“See, I did it,” said Upbin at a press conference held here Thursday at the Bryant Park Hotel. “You can’t help but get ignited by that energy flow,” he said of the kinetic Simmons.

“This is not just another deal to Kellwood,” said Upbin, noting the Phat Fashions properties represent a new line of business for the vendor, a sentiment reflected by the press conference, which was complete with a mini fashion show.

Simmons, dressed in his signature tracksuit, noted, “This marketplace needs diversity,” and added that the deal with Kellwood would give his company the muscle to realize its potential.

Currently, about $70 million of Phat Fashions’ $260 million in revenues is derived from Baby Phat products. “Kimora is just beginning to shine — Baby Phat is growing faster than the men’s line,” said Simmons.

Kellwood’s president and chief operating officer, Robert C. Skinner Jr., agreed the Phat Fashions’ women’s business has the potential to equal the men’s, if not exceed it, since the women’s overall apparel market is significantly larger than the men’s.

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