By  on September 19, 2007

Lord & Taylor is close to completing another designer exclusive, this time with Joseph Abboud — the man, not the label.

None of the parties involved were willing to discuss the arrangement, or whether Lord & Taylor parent NRDC Equity Partners LLC is taking an ownership stake in Abboud's business.

According to sources, Abboud will be working with Lord & Taylor to create exclusive men's wear, adding to the chain's growing stable of collections involving designers. An announcement is imminent.

In July, Abboud reentered the men's wear business after more than two years on the sidelines by announcing plans to launch a label called Jaz in fall 2008. The collection will be aimed at stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen, and could have a tie-in with Lord & Taylor.

NRDC has already established partnerships and financial arrangements with a handful of American designers, most recently taking a majority stake in Peter Som Inc. Earlier, Charles Nolan was named creative director for the Kate Hill bridge private label line at Lord & Taylor. Nolan is re-creating the label, in what could be a precursor to an investment in Nolan's business.

NRDC also has a stake in Cynthia Steffe, who is no longer associated with the label that bears her name but will be providing product for Lord & Taylor.

In addition, Bryan Bradley was recently named creative director for Bryan by Bryan Bradley, a contemporary line exclusively for Lord & Taylor launching in October. Bradley, owner-designer of Tuleh, has no plans to sell a stake in his business.

NRDC is forming an entity to manage its growing stable of designer-contemporary businesses, which in some cases will provide product and new lines for Lord & Taylor and possibly other retailers. Internally, it's been dubbed Creative Design Studios and a manager is being sought to oversee it.

The Joseph Abboud label is owned by JA Apparel Corp., which Abboud vacated in 2005. JA Apparel sells Joseph Abboud sportswear and suits to Lord & Taylor, among other stores.

Abboud had a non-compete agreement with JA Apparel that expired in July, enabling him to return to men's wear with Jaz. He's lined up deals for manufacturing facilities and licenses to create the Jaz collection. Abboud has been surrounded by controversy ever since he lost rights to his name and has fought to win them back. However, he is prohibited from using his name on any product or marketing materials, though he is allowed to use his name for personal appearances.

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