By and  on January 30, 2006

NEW YORK — Elie Tahari is taking on the world — fashion-wise and geographically.

Tahari is out to build a $1 billion brand over the next five years and for fall will launch both a major accessories push and a men's wear line. At the same time, he's growing his network of freestanding stores with a new retail concept, expanding into international markets such as Europe and Asia and upgrading parts of his collection to hit higher price points.

To support the growth, Tahari also will launch his first global advertising campaign this spring, which was photographed by Glen Luchford and features model Missy Rayder.

Sitting in his sprawling office facing Bryant Park on West 42nd Street, Tahari, chairman and chief executive officer, and his wife, Rory, who is the label's creative director, said the timing was right to make the leap.

In 2003, Tahari sold his stake in Theory, which he launched with Andrew Rosen in 1997, to Link International and Fast Retailing Co., and found himself with sufficient cash to reinvest. His 2004 attempt to buy Barneys New York didn't happen, but Tahari is now using some of that money to expand his own label, which is sold in more than 600 doors worldwide, including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and Macy's West.

"I always intended to make the highest-quality designer product, but I didn't have the financial resources or the right connections to accomplish this," Elie Tahari said. "Since we sold Theory, we had the financial resources. I also had the extra time to devote myself to these expansions and now we feel we're doing it right. In the last two years, we have been investing in the product and this is only the start."

Department and specialty stores regularly cite the collection as one of the top sellers in the bridge area, where it is often positioned as a segue to the contemporary designers. According to Tahari, the label had wholesale sales of $500 million, which he explained was a good platform for future growth.

Within five years, Tahari plans to be a $1 billion company. Much of this growth is expected to come from the addition of the lucrative accessories categories, as well as the brand's growing network of signature stores.

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