By  on February 29, 2008

PARIS — Sportswear brand Puma AG on Thursday named Cyprus-born designer Hussein Chalayan as its creative director and acquired a majority stake in his signature fashion brand, confirming a report in WWD.

Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. The announcement came a day after the London-based designer unveiled his fall women's wear collection here.

"Hussein Chalayan is a proven visionary in the fashion industry," Jochen Zeitz, chairman and chief executive officer of Herzogenaurach, Germany-based Puma, said at a press conference here Thursday. "As creative director, he will bring use of new technology, forward-thinking design and a provocative point of view to Puma."

Chalayan becomes Puma's first creative director, according to Zeitz, as well as the first fashion designer to be appointed as creative director of a major sports label. Last year, retail and luxury conglomerate PPR purchased a 62.1 percent stake in Puma.

"Acquiring majority shares of the Hussein Chalayan brand is giving Puma the ability to move into a new space, expanding our reach to become the most desirable sports lifestyle company in the world," Zeitz said, noting that the designer retains a substantial share in his namesake company.

Last week, Puma, Europe's second largest sporting goods brand after Adidas, reported that full-year earnings increased 2.2 percent to 269 million euros, or $371 million, on sales that rose 0.2 percent to 2.37 billion euros, or $3.28 billion.

This is not the first time Puma has ventured into the fashion arena.

According to Zeitz, Puma's collaboration with Jil Sander 10 years ago was the first between a sports label and a fashion designer — ahead of rival Adidas' Y-3 collaboration with Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto. "[Puma] was the first to use the word 'fashion' in our strategy and to do collaborations with designers such as Jil Sander and Neil Barrett," Zeitz said.

The company has since tied up with high-end designers such as Alexander McQueen and Philippe Starck. Puma also boasts a cobranded shoe collection with Italian motorcycle maker Ducati Motor Holding SpA, and last year it tapped Dutch designer Marcel Wanders to create an accessories line. It also has a denim collaboration with Hong Kong-based Evisu and produces jeans in-house as part of a new lifestyle subbrand, dubbed Dassler.

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