By and  on September 14, 2007

PARIS — Even esoteric designers like Yohji Yamamoto are joining the contemporary stampede.

Yamamoto is launching his youngest, most affordable offering yet, called Coming Soon. The "supercasual" collection, licensed to Italian manu­facturer SINV SpA, is designed to propel the Japanese designer into the big-volume leagues. The partners, who signed a 10-year pact, expect that the women's and men's collection has the potential to generate wholesale volume of 200 million euros, or $276 million at current exchange, over the length of the contract.

Yamamoto's new line is the latest sign of a vibrant market for designer second collections — often positioned in the hot contemporary zone and aimed at aspirational customers. During the past year, the likes of John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Vera Wang and Daryl Kerrigan all have entered the fray with lower-priced collections. Meanwhile, Giorgio Armani, Chloé and Dolce & Gabbana all have fine-tuned or repositioned their second brands in recent years, seeking to kick-start growth and access a broader base of consumers. And brands such as Quiksilver, Imitation of Christ and Hollywould are jumping into the contemporary market, which has been a popular category at retail from Dallas to Dubai.

Designer firms — recently focused on ultraexpensive, exclusive products in a booming luxury climate — are now keen to reach younger customers, too, and are less reticent about assigning licenses for the sportswear category. For example, Galliano partnered with IT Holding's Ittierre unit, a pioneer in launching designer jeans and younger lines in the early Nineties, while McQueen signed up with SINV, which also produces and distributes See by Chloé, Moschino Jeans and Red Valentino.

"See by Chloé will be a major priority for us in the coming years," Ralph Toledano, chairman and chief executive officer of Chloé, said Thursday. "In the last two years, the See by Chloé growth has been really impressive."

Toledano said he would soon extend the See by Chloé brand into new categories, unveiling an in-house leather goods line in January and a footwear collection in July. "Sunglasses will probably be the next project," he added.

Massimo Braglia, ceo of privately owned SINV, said the company shifted its focus in recent years to fashion-driven collections, a move which drove 2006 revenues up 44.5 percent to 164 million euros, or $226.3 million. Sales are projected to climb to 175 million euros, or $241.5 million, this year.

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