By  on August 31, 2009

Perry Ellis International has inked a five-year licensing agreement with S.A.R.L. de Gestion Pierre Cardin to produce and distribute a men’s sportswear collection, excluding woven shirts, under the Pierre Cardin brand in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“The addition of an iconic brand such as Pierre Cardin, with its amazing heritage, worldwide recognition and enormous untapped potential, creates new and exciting growth opportunities for Perry Ellis International,” said George Feldenkreis, chairman and chief executive officer of PEI.

The first Pierre Cardin product from PEI will hit department stores in January. The company declined to divulge sales targets.

PEI is assuming the men’s sportswear license from Hartmarx Operating Co. LLC, the new company formed following the bankruptcy and purchase of Hartmarx Corp. PEI first became interested in the Pierre Cardin sportswear business while it was considering making acquisitions of pieces of the Hartmarx business during bankruptcy proceedings earlier this year. The Hartmarx license for Pierre Cardin sportswear expires at the end of this year.

“Pierre Cardin remains one of the best-known fashion brands in the world today. We are pleased to partner with Perry Ellis International,” said Edouard Saint Bris, the New York-based international license manager at Pierre Cardin. “This partnership will allow the Pierre Cardin brand to reach its full potential in the largest consumer market in the world.”

Pierre Cardin men’s sportswear is currently distributed in midtier retailers, including Sears. According to a PEI spokesman, the company is evaluating whether it will target a more upscale tier of distribution for the line.

At PEI, the Pierre Cardin business will operate from its men’s wholesale division, which houses brands such as Axis, John Henry, Manhattan and Cubavera.

Pierre Cardin, the 87-year-old French designer, still retains ownership of the Pierre Cardin brand. Founded in 1950, it is now licensed to more than 900 product categories worldwide. Other prominent licensees include Safilo Group for sunglasses and Coty Inc. for fragrances.

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