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Simmons, Kellwood Team Up

NEW YORK — Russell Simmons, the mastermind behind Phat Fashions, will launch a line with Kellwood Co. for fall retailing.<br><br>Aimed at such stores as Sears and J.C. Penney, as well as specialty retailers, the line will be called Run Athletics,...

NEW YORK — Russell Simmons, the mastermind behind Phat Fashions, will launch a line with Kellwood Co. for fall retailing.

Aimed at such stores as Sears and J.C. Penney, as well as specialty retailers, the line will be called Run Athletics, named after Simmons’ brother and Run DMC member Joseph Simmons, also known as Rev. Run, who will be the face of the ads for the brand.

“This line will eventually compete with the big athletic brands out there like Nike and Reebok,” said Marcie Corbett, president of Phat Fashions.

She said the first line, which will hit stores at the end of August, will consist entirely of athletic-inspired men’s wear. Plans are in the works to launch a boys’ line for spring. According to Corbett, the firm hopes to take this brand into a full lifestyle of clothing and other products, which might include women’s wear.

“The collection is designed with an excellent fit, offering young men affordable street styles with the quality and look they want,” said Robert Skinner Jr., Kellwood’s corporate vice president.

This venture with Run Athletics marks a major step into the urban clothing business for Kellwood. According to company executives, the Run brand has the potential to reach $50 million in sales within three years.

In 2002, Kellwood’s earnings gained 11.3 percent to $42 million on sales that were down 3 percent to $2.2 billion. Besides Run Athletics, Kellwood also is launching the licensed Izod women’s line this year and is gearing up for a 2004 launch of the Calvin Klein better sportswear line it’s producing under license for Phillips-Van Heusen.

Phat Fashions is a $260 million company that includes Phat Farm and Baby Phat clothing brands. Simmons founded Def Jam records, which is now considered the top hip-hop record label. Simmons also runs Rush Communications, which includes an advertising agency, charity organization and One World magazine.

Simmons also recently entered the business of beverages with his DefCon3, a health soft drink, and his purchase of Bella Cafe, a coffee drink.