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Madden’s Active Duty

NEW YORK — Steven Madden Ltd. is getting ready for a workout.<P>The namesake designer is looking at 41 months of jail time and $500,000 in fines after his recent conviction for securities fraud and money laundering, but that isn’t stopping...

NEW YORK — Steven Madden Ltd. is getting ready for a workout.

This story first appeared in the May 30, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The namesake designer is looking at 41 months of jail time and $500,000 in fines after his recent conviction for securities fraud and money laundering, but that isn’t stopping the company from moving forward with a small activewear-inspired collection for fall retailing.

“The company’s sales have risen in recent months, so I really don’t think our customer is affected by Madden’s personal trouble,” said Jacqueline Precious, merchandise director at SoHo Fashions, the licensee for Steve Madden sportswear and outerwear. “In fact, I really don’t think she knows about it.”

The company has been testing a small collection of terry cloth active sets in some of the 70 Steve Madden boutiques, which the firm said has been selling well.

“The sets go well with the sneakers on the line, so [the customer] seems to be buying the sneakers with the matching sets,” said Steve Faro, key account sales associate at the company.

SoHo Fashions will introduce a line of velour sets for the fall. They are available in a variety of styles and colors, including a basic royal blue hooded top with matching pants or a pink and navy logo 57 (the year Madden was born) baseball jacket with matching pants. Also in the mix is a line of ribbed velour jackets and pants that look like corduroy, but feel much softer than the average corduroy fabric.

The company also has a group of knit denim, a fabric that looks like the traditional woven twill fabric but is actually knitted, for more stretch and a softer hand. The styles are sold as separates. Both slim and relaxed fits are available. The wholesale range is $39.50 to $45. Elliot Shalom, president of SoHo Fashions, said he expects to reach $8 million to $10 million in wholesale sales volumes before the end of 2002.

Precious said the company plans to launch a line of T-shirts, denim garments and other active-inspired sportswear pieces down the line.

Faro said the collection will continue to be sold in Steve Madden boutiques, as well as in other specialty shops and department stores. Faro said he will especially target the stores that already carry the line of Steve Madden outerwear.

“The whole idea of the line is to work with the sneakers and the outerwear that are best sellers in the stores,” Precious said. “So that will always be the focus with future additions.”

Steve Madden attempted to enter the junior sportswear category twice before, but closed the last collection shortly after its debut three years ago. Steve Madden ended its first sportswear licensing deal with Winer Industries before signing a deal in 1998 with Mirage Apparel Group, a manufacturer of private label and brand-name sportswear and outerwear. At that time, Precious was serving as licensing director at Steve Madden, but has since moved over to SoHo Fashions.

“The sneakers are selling so well, so why not make clothes to go with them?” Faro asked rhetorically.

Besides footwear and accessories, Steven Madden Ltd also has several licenses for the Steve Madden and Stevies brands, including outerwear, leather sportswear, eyewear, hosiery, watches, handbags and belts. In addition, the company owns and operates two retail locations under its David Aaron brand and is the licensee for LEI footwear.SoHo Fashions, which recently changed its name from NoHo Fashions, also carries the licenses for Phat Farm outerwear and leather and Baby Phat leather.

Madden remains involved with the company on a creative level. While he has yet to begin serving any jail time, he was recently sentenced in a Brooklyn court on charges of securities fraud and money laundering involving defunct brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, including the 1993 initial public offering of his own firm. He was sentenced on April 4 in Manhattan for stock manipulation involving IPOs underwritten by Monroe Parker Securities Inc., also defunct.In total, the 45-year-old Madden has been given 41 months in prison for the Brooklyn counts, to be served concurrently with the 41-month term received in the Manhattan case. Madden will also serve an additional year of supervised release.