By  on August 2, 2010

The Carole Hochman Design Group is starting a new chapter in the men’s innerwear business.

The company, which is marking its 80th anniversary, has signed a licensing agreement with Oxford Industries Inc. to produce and distribute woven men’s boxers and robes bearing the Tommy Bahama name for Oct. 25 deliveries. Assortments will be expanded for spring with sleepwear and loungewear separates. Distribution is intended for major stores such as Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom and Belk.

The firm is negotiating two additional licensing agreements for men’s innerwear, said Carole Hochman, chairman and chief creative director, who did not disclose details of the potential deals.

“We plan to have three men’s licenses — good, better and best collections for mass channels, chain stores and better department and specialty stores,” she said. “Tommy Bahama will be the collection for better stores,” and the line will also be sold at more than 1,000 Tommy Bahama units.

The Tommy Bahama brand is an attractive asset to the company’s portfolio because of its “distinctive print presence,” Hochman said.

“To me it’s like Ralph Lauren,” she explained. “People know what Tommy Bahama stands for — the island lifestyle and an every-day-is-a-weekend philosophy. The brand is so clear, not like other brands that have not developed an iconic idea.”

The initiative for the company’s first full foray into men’s intimates developed last year, said Seth Morris, president of Hochman.

“We had touched on the men’s business with Stan Herman [robes and loungewear] and the QVC business, and it peaked our curiosity,” he said. “We thought men’s was a practical extension and determined with the right brands and right partners there was a niche for us. It’s a great opportunity…and will become a significant part of our business.”

A first-year wholesale sales projection was not available, but Tommy Bahama men’s innerwear could generate sales in excess of $5 million, according to industry estimates.

Suggested retail prices will be $19.50 for boxers, $40 to $60 for sleepwear and loungewear separates and $98 to $118 for robes.

The company’s women’s sleepwear and intimates labels include Carole Hochman, Carole Hochman Midnight, On Gossamer and Stan Herman. The men’s business will join licensees such as Oscar de la Renta, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Betsey Johnson, Lilly Pulitzer, Jockey, Nine & Co., Gloria Vanderbilt, Chaps and American Living.

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