By  on June 9, 2008

The Camuto Group Is Expanding Its Jessica Simpson franchise with the introduction of intimate apparel for spring 2009.

Simpson's five-year-old fashion franchise at the Camuto Group, which holds the master license for the Simpson brand, is projected to generate wholesale revenues of $300 million in 2008, said Kristin Kohler, senior vice president of licensing at Camuto.

The lingerie is licensed to Muse Creative Group, a design, merchandising, sourcing and production firm created in 2007. This is the second try for intimate apparel for the brand. A licensing deal signed last year with Montreal-based Vestiny Apparel fell through.

A first-year wholesale sales projection was not available, but the collection of bras, undies, sleepwear and daywear could generate about $30 million in its first year, according to industry estimates.

"We expect it to be a big part of the business within the long term, among the top three to five categories," said Kohler. "On the back end, our [Camuto] team has lots of experience in distribution. We grew Nine West distribution to 2,000 stores."

Kohler noted distribution of Simpson's lingerie will be aimed at major stores, independent operations and e-commerce sites that also sell Simpson's products. Distribution will be expanded eight months after the U.S. launch to Europe and Latin America.

For her part, Simpson said, "I like different lingerie for different occasions. I think that's the best thing about it. You can feel sexy or girly depending on your mood."

She said lingerie is an important element in a woman's wardrobe.

"It is the first thing you put on," she said. "If you start with something that fits correctly and is comfortable and fashionable, it will only complement your look."

Simpson said the biggest problem when wearing lingerie is panty lines. "That is why I am including, in my collection, a stylish assortment of shapewear that women will love," she said.

Lingerie will join five established categories by Simpson: footwear sold at 2,000 department store doors, handbags at 1,600 units, sunglasses at 550 doors, outerwear at 800 points of sale and swimwear at 1,100 units. Also in the works is a fragrance launch in August and a belt collection for fall, she said.Regarding the role of Muse Creative Group, which is co-owned by Kate Liegey and Diana Popescu, Liegey said, "We wanted to step out of the box with this collection. We wanted it to have a beautiful designer feeling, but at affordable prices. The concept is beauty from the inside out and we are really driven by that. We really wanted Jessica because of her attention to detail. She's one of the few celebrities who's really involved. She doesn't just say, yes, yes, yes. She finds fabrics and trims and is so much part of the development of the line."

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