Ella Moss Expands Swimwear

Contemporary label makes licensing agreement.

A look from Ella Moss.

Los Angeles contemporary women’s label Ella Moss is testing the licensing waters for the first time with an expanded swimwear lineup.

This story first appeared in the August 13, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Tustin, Calif.-based swim specialist Raj Manufacturing will produce the swimwear under a three-year licensing agreement with Ella Moss. The brand marketed a limited swimsuit collection developed fully in-house to specialty stores before the agreement.

“It has been an initiative of the company to go after licensing starting this year,” said Jonathan Saven, Ella Moss’ chief operating officer. “We decided to take a product that we had a little bit of momentum with, but we hadn’t rolled out. We don’t have expertise here…Raj has a reputation for being one of the [swimwear] leaders.”

Pamella Protzel, Ella Moss’ creative director, will continue to be responsible for the swimwear’s design. The debut licensed collection, set to hit stores in November, will comprise seven groups with one to three color ways and three to four silhouettes, including a cutout one-piece, a bandeau and a triangle tie-side. Retail prices range from $120 to $180.

For swimwear distribution, Ella Moss is targeting stores its sportswear is carried in such as Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Saven declined to project first-year sales, but said, “I don’t expect it to be more than 10 or 15 percent of our total business.”

Mo Industries Holdings Inc., owner of Ella Moss and Splendid, has seen revenues triple since 2004, generating an estimated volume of $80 million last year. That success was attractive to Greensboro, N.C.-based manufacturing behemoth VF Corp., which acquired one-third of the capital stock of Mo Industries this year — terms were not disclosed — and the ability to purchase the remaining stock next year.

Raj Manufacturing has a decades-long track record in the licensed swimwear business. The company’s licensed portfolio features Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, St. John and O’Neill.

Saven said Mo Industries is in talks for license arrangements in other categories, but he doesn’t anticipate another licensed launch this year. However, he predicted that the next licensing agreement will be made for the Splendid brand.