NEW YORK — Liz Claiborne Inc. rates the sales potential of the Narciso Rodriguez brand at about $100 million, and it is getting behind the designer financially and with other resources to achieve that number.
On Monday, the designer and William L. McComb, chief executive officer of Claiborne, outlined their hopes for the partnership, after the $4.99 billion apparel giant bought a 50 percent ownership in the designer’s name and trademarks.
The plan is to strengthen the designer’s resources while expanding into accessories and other fashion-related items.
“I feel great today,” Rodriguez said. “For so long, I wanted to branch into shoes in a bigger way and all accessories, and I haven’t been able to. For me, it’s so important to create the total look, and now, to have the opportunity to do that is really exciting.”
McComb said that while Claiborne was currently not in an aggressive acquisitions mode since it was trying to fix the wholesale department store business, deals like this come around once “every five years.”
“How many designers of his taste level, his recognition, of his establishment are there that you can also buy and build a business, rather than buying an already developed, low-growth business?” McComb asked. “We will do this together, and grow this business organically.”
Claiborne paid $12 million for the stake in Rodriguez’s business, which has sales volume of $10 million, according to McComb.
“I have had the opportunity many times to partner with the wrong people, but was looking for somebody who believed in the vision and wanted to follow that vision,” Rodriguez said. “And for me, it was important that the next association was going to be the right association. Bill McComb came in, saw not only the ideas on the walls and the sketches, but also all the ideas that were there that weren’t being made. He saw the opportunities to make those come alive.”
Claiborne plans to build the Rodriguez brand in multiple ways, from helping the designer with his resources to working with him on licensing opportunities.
“The next step is to provide the resources his business needs to fully flesh out the line with the right fabrics, the right selling resources, right supply chain and sourcing partnerships so his product line can be fully developed,” McComb said.He stressed there were currently no plans for diffusion lines in the better or bridge tiers in which Claiborne is so well-versed.
“We would see expanding into the opening price point in the luxury market in the way that Prada Sport has done it, as opposed to conceiving a whole diffusion line,” McComb said. “At this time, our commitment with Narciso is to really do what others had not done with him, which is to fully play out the potential in the luxury market he is in now.
“He is a fantastic accessories designer...and even in some categories, like swimwear, he has had great success,” he added. “I think the most important thing is to focus on the tier he is playing in now and fully develop it.”
McComb added that Claiborne did not necessarily plan to make upscale acquisitions a priority under his leadership.
“We like the space that Narciso is in, but that doesn’t mean you will hear in July that there is going to be a [luxury] sector that we go and stake out,” McComb said. “When I talk about a development fund we will put behind great designers, it could be at the luxury end or at the popular price segment of better or bridge. Great design talent deserves to be funded because great design drives product turn and profitability. This does not necessarily mark an entry into a luxury segment strategy.”
McComb said Claiborne and Rodriguez were still working on a transition plan with Aeffe, which will provide transitional manufacturing support until Claiborne fully takes over.
Aeffe chairman Massimo Ferretti said on Monday he was “very pleased” with the new partnership between Claiborne and Rodriguez. “The agreement will allow us to sell our 50 percent stake in Narciso Rodriguez LLC [the operation that managed the designer’s licensing business], is in line with our strategy to focus on our core business and is functional to our plan to go public,” said Ferretti in a phone interview. Ferretti also said he believed Rodriguez “chose the right path.”
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews