NEW YORK — Now that the Calvin Klein, CK and DKNY outerwear licenses are in play with the apparent demise of the venerable Fairbrooke Enterprises coat firm, industry sources are buzzing about who will seize the names, as well as the importance of licensing in general.
The fallout from Fairbrooke and other developments also is signaling a new round of consolidation in the sector, which has shrunk considerably in the last decade or so by attrition and through mergers and acquisitions. Several warm winters in the late 1990s also did many companies in.
Industry sources said another veteran outerwear firm, Marvin Richards, has picked up the Calvin Klein and CK coat licenses. They also said S. Rothschild & Co. and G-III Apparel Group are leading contenders for the DKNY coat license.
Tom Murry, president and chief operating officer of Calvin Klein, only said it is close to announcing a new licensee and is evaluating fall coat deliveries. Marvin Richards executives did not return phone calls.
Jeanette Nostra, president of G-III, declined comment other than to say the publicly traded company is in a quiet period due to its pending earnings release. The company produces outerwear for such brands as Sean John, Cole Haan and Kenneth Cole, as well as several in-house brands and team licensing.
Executives at DKNY could not be reached for comment.
Mark Friedman, president and chief executive officer of S. Rothschild, said, “We have been talking to DKNY and have tremendous interest in the label. It would fit with what our company is all about, which is fashion. We’re looking to develop the upscale part of our business.”
In March, S. Rothschild & Co., a large, privately held outerwear firm with several branded and private labels, acquired coat maker MDP and the New England Mackintosh brand “to broaden our business in the lower and middle market tiers,” Friedman said.
Calvin Klein, CK and DKNY were produced by Fairbrooke, the 47-year-old firm that ceased operations last week, as part of long-term deals. But picking up one of the labels won’t guarantee large orders, and a source said volume for those lines had diminished considerably in recent years.Once news of Fairbrooke’s demise spread, retailers started looking for replacement fall outerwear, even though Calvin Klein Inc., purchased by Phillips-Van Heusen this year, has not revealed fall shipping plans. Instead of introducing new labels to their stores, some said they would increase buys with existing vendors that have proven to be successful with their shoppers.
Last month, Oscar de le Renta signed a licensing deal with Fleet Street to produce outerwear for department stores and specialty stores under the Oscar by Oscar de la Renta label, said Alexander Bolen, director of corporate development. The designer’s outerwear and rainwear will debut next fall. The collection will have one tier that retails between $600 and $1,000 and is sold to stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, and another tier that retails between $450 and $800 and is sold to such stores as Lord & Taylor and Macy’s, said Eliza Reed Bolen, vice president of licensing.
Other big names like Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and JLo by Jennifer Lopez are reportedly shopping for coat deals.
“There must be at least a half-dozen names up in the air,” said one executive who asked not to be named. “None of them have hit the ground yet.”
Ron Gallo, president of Donnkenny Coats, which has the license for Bill Blass outerwear and rainwear, said, “We’re players in the coat market. We’re constantly looking to expand our reach.”
This spring, Donnkenny purchased Rose Cloak, Gallo’s family’s business, which has had the Blass license for the last four years. Donnkenny then folded the Blass portion under its umbrella.
“The coat market is very specific,” Gallo said. “We have built from scratch a brand new label with the help of Bill Blass Ltd.”
Ira Schwartz, president and ceo of Free Country, one of the few outerwear makers that does not have any licensed lines, said, “That’s the name of the game today. Licensing has become a big part of the outerwear business. We’re one of the few companies that is trying to brand ourselves.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast