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LOS ANGELES — Danny Guez is bringing his brand-building experience to a new joint venture with the founders of Southern California knitwear line 2 B Free.
After starting premium denim label People’s Liberation and collaborating with Justin Timberlake and Trace Ayala to launch celebrity line William Rast, Guez is teaming with Cedric and Yves Benaroch to produce Country Love, a knit label that begins shipping to stores including Kitson, Planet Blue and Bloomingdale’s this month.
Under the umbrella of Guez’s Beverly Hills-based denim company, Dylan George, the Benaroch brothers oversee Country Love’s design as its creative directors, while Guez manages production and operations, including sales, customer service and finances. The Benaroches and Guez own equal stakes in Country Love.
By joining forces, Guez and the Benaroches hope to benefit each other by introducing new retailers to each other’s sales networks. For instance, Guez said he could help Country Love land in Nordstrom, which carries his Dylan George label.
“I’m pretty good at operations and building brands and leveraging relationships,” Guez said. “We really complemented each other.”
Founded in 2001 by the Benaroch brothers, 2 B Free grew to generate annual sales of $12 million through 500 retail accounts. Its Los Angeles runway shows attracted celebrities like Hayden Panettiere to the front row, and featured Paris Hilton strutting the catwalk in skintight leggings and short dresses.
“Being partners with someone like Danny, who has a lot of experience, for his effort and our effort, we could double or triple what we did with 2 B Free,” said Cedric, 27.
“The way we think we’re going to survive this economy is shipping on time, shipping key price points and making sure they retail,” added Yves, 29.
Country Love also represents an opportunity for Guez to expand his business without overstretching Dylan George in a challenging economy. Although he scaled back plans to open a flagship store and introduce handbags, a fragrance, Swiss-made watches and a children’s line, Guez is proceeding with preparations to begin offering eyewear and footwear this summer. Having lowered his denim prices by 20 percent, he now projects hitting sales of more than $6 million, or half of his original forecast, for this year.
“Until this economy passes, I really want to keep it narrow and deep,” Guez said. “As long as [Dylan George and Country Love] can pay for their own infrastructure and overhead, I’m content. I want to increase the business, but do it in a right way.