By  on August 21, 2008

NEW YORK — Seven For All Mankind is stepping up its expansion efforts in Asia.

The Los Angeles-based premium denim label, owned by manufacturing giant VF Corp., said this week that it had reached a distribution agreement with South Korea’s Cheil Industries Inc. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but include the planned opening of six shops-in-shops in major department stores this year.

“[Cheil Industries] has over 50 years of experience in the fashion and textiles industry, as well as the motivation to build a strong retail business for us in Korea,” said Giuliano Sartori, vice president and general manager of Seven’s Asia-Pacific division.

Cheil was founded in 1954 and entered the fashion business in the Eighties. The company currently holds sportswear and accessories distribution agreements for a number of leading fashion labels, including Theory, Issey Miyake, Givenchy, Nine West, Easy Spirit and Fubu.

Seven’s South Korea deal comes a little more than a month after the brand said it had found a distribution partner to expand its presence in Hong Kong and China. On June 25, Seven revealed it had reached an agreement with Fairton International Group Ltd. to open between 30 and 40 stores throughout the region over the next five years.

Like the South Korea agreement, Seven partnered with an established firm handling a long list of established labels. Fairton, founded in 1955, operates stores in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan and Macau and counts brands such as Jean Paul Gaultier, MaxMara and Kookai among its client list.

The China partnership was quick to bear fruit. On July 3, Seven opened its first international store in Hong Kong’s IFC mall. Seven and Fairton have targeted Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Macau and Taipei, Taiwan, for future store locations in the region.

Mike Egeck, chief executive officer of Seven and president of VF’s contemporary brands division, told WWD in May that growth in Asia would center on company-owned retail as the primary avenue of distribution. Ultimately Egeck believes the Asian market has the potential for more than 100 stores.

“If you want to build a great consumer brand in today’s world, you need these showcase stores to speak directly to the consumer,” he said.

Meanwhile, the brand is moving forward on the goal of opening between 100 and 120 stores in the U.S. On Aug. 7, the label opened the doors of its first New York flagship. The 3,000-square-foot store at 394 West Broadway in SoHo is Seven’s fourth full-price domestic unit — joining stores in Los Angeles, Dallas and Malibu, Calif. — and also its largest.

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