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Wolford Gets Cozy With Karl

NEW YORK — Wolford’s new collection with Karl Lagerfeld and Lagerfeld Gallery is the hosiery firm’s second licensing deal with a designer, and the start of what the company hopes will be more such collaborations.<br><br>"We are...

NEW YORK — Wolford’s new collection with Karl Lagerfeld and Lagerfeld Gallery is the hosiery firm’s second licensing deal with a designer, and the start of what the company hopes will be more such collaborations.

“We are building a separate division devoted to licensing,” said Roberto Geronzi, an executive board member at Wolford who oversees international marketing and sales. “This is a way for Wolford to diversify and branch out.”

The hosiery and bodywear company signed a three-year deal with Vivienne Westwood last year, which was its first foray into licensing, and that line has been expanded to include an array of products, such as bodywear with Union Jack themes.

The premiere Wolford/Lagerfeld Gallery line of 20 pieces includes sheer hosiery and bodywear, as well as a selection of skirts and dresses. The bulk of non-hosiery products are made in Fatal, a stretch material Wolford developed. Many of the offerings are body-hugging styles designed to be worn in layers.

“It’s really a lifestyle offering that goes beyond hosiery,” said Maria Basquil, Wolford’s national sales manager in the U.S. “Working with Lagerfeld keeps us on the cutting edge of fashion.”

The line will be carried at Wolford and Lagerfeld Gallery stores, including the 24 Wolford stores in the U.S. and Lagerfeld’s two stores in Monaco and Paris, and the company also is targeting department stores and fashion boutiques, according to Geronzi.

Lagerfeld said in a statement that the pieces are designed to complement his Lagerfeld Gallery collection, which was founded in 1998. While Wolford is traditionally carried in legwear departments, the company also has been meeting with ready-to-wear buyers in hopes of placing the line in those departments.

Retail prices for the line range from about $250 to $570, and Geronzi anticipates that the collection could hit sales of about $1.6 million in the first year. Wolford recently reported that overall sales slipped 6.6 percent to $106.5 million for the nine months ended Jan. 30, with sales converted from the euro.

Although Wolford over the years has worked with designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler, most of those collaborations were for one collection and did not include a long-term arrangement such as the ones it has initiated with Westwood and Lagerfeld.

“We would like to sign with an Italian designer next,” Geronzi noted. “We need an Italian.”