NEW YORK — Paula Dorf Cosmetics is heading into Japan later this month.

The independently owned makeup artist brand and the Japan-based Utowa Group have joined forces. This is the first U.S. agreement for the Utowa Group, who will manufacture and distribute the brand in Japan. There also are plans to open 10 freestanding Paula Dorf stores in Isetan, Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya in September, as well as approximately 60 Paula Dorf Cosmetics stores in the next two to three years. “We have been seeking to join forces with a brand as special as Ms. Dorf’s and are striving to create brand awareness for this truly unique brand to make its way into the Japanese market,” said Tamai Utowa, president of the Utowa Group.

The Paula Dorf Concept Studio — located in the Aoyama shopping district with other luxury retailers such as Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton — is set up so consumers can purchase the products, and receive expert advice, makeup tips and lessons from Paula Dorf Cosmetics makeup artists, explained Michelle Williams, general manager of Paula Dorf Cosmetics.

“I am really excited about going into Japan and the fact that the women love makeup,” noted Dorf. She added that her entire line will be available, as well as the new colors and kits she will develop exclusively for Japan.

The brand currently has U.S. distribution in approximately 250 doors, and internationally at Dickins and Jones in London and in specialty boutiques in Stockholm and Greece. Plans are in the works to increase the company’s European distribution in the fall.

Industry sources estimate the company racked up retail sales of about $10 million in 2002 and expect an increase to $15 million for 2003 with the expansion in Europe and Asia. The company will also launch a skin care collection in October called “Simple Skin.”

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