By  on December 12, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Mike & Chris, a contemporary brand that helped transform the casual hoodie into an edgy fashion item, hopes to weather the recession without sacrificing design through a licensing agreement with Green Mochi LLC.

Effective immediately, the deal allows Mike & Chris co­-found­er and designer Mike Gonzalez to focus on design. Green Mochi, which holds equal partnerships in contemporary label Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent and A.L.C., the fashion line launched for next spring by celebrity stylist Andrea Lieberman, oversees Mike & Chris’ production, invoices and shipments.

“Not only is it efficient on a business level, I will be able to really, really spend 100 percent of my time on the creative between the design process, the development of each collection and fine-tuning it,” said Gonzalez, a former fashion photographer.

Mike & Chris is the latest contemporary label to resort to a licensing model in the challenging economy. Modern Amusement, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based sportswear line owned by Mossimo Giannulli, said last month that it granted a five-year master license to Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Blk Brd LLC for all apparel and accessories.

Founded in Los Angeles by Gonzalez and his wife, Christine Park-Gonzalez, Mike & Chris began making its mark three years ago with hoodies spruced up in lightweight lambskin, softly weathered fleece and design details ranging from military epaulets to oversize buttons.

After breaking into the men’s market last year, the brand expanded its women’s portfolio with sanded silk charmeuse dresses and denim bell-bottoms. The line also parlayed its experience with leather into handbags, launched in 2006, and shoes, introduced this fall. With wholesale prices ranging from $86 to $410, Mike & Chris rang up $13 million in sales this year through retailers such as Barneys Co-op, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Harvey Nichols, Holt Renfrew, Isetan, Intermix and Ron Herman.

Los Angeles-based Green Mochi, which has 45 employees, posted sales of $14.5 million this year. As part of the deal, Mike & Chris will consolidate its New York and Los Angeles showrooms with Twelfth Street’s. Green Mochi chief executive officer Armen Gregorian said he also plans to consolidate shipping, factoring, warehouse, invoicing and any operation that isn’t related to Mike & Chris’ design.

“What that does is spread the fixed costs over the base,” Gregorian said. “It reduces it by half for the entire company. We can endure the problems of 2009 and not be affected.”

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