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Prabal Gurung Named Chief Designer for ICB

The designer will help Onward Kashiyama relaunch the Japanese brand in the U.S. and Europe.

NEW YORK — Onward Kashiyama Co. Ltd. has plans to relaunch the ICB collection in the U.S. and Europe, and it has zeroed in a hot young New York talent to spearhead the design — Prabal Gurung.

This story first appeared in the December 6, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Gurung will serve as chief designer for the ICB collection in these markets, which is slated at retail in the U.S. for fall 2012 and Europe for 2013, though the exact timing of the launch there is still being determined.

This is the first major move initiated by Akinori Baba, who was named president of the Japanese manufacturing, retail and distribution giant in September.

“The potential of the ICB brand in the U.S. and globally is a priority for Onward Kashiyama,” Baba said. “Gurung as a maverick international designer combined with our established business in Japan provides a solid foundation.”

Gurung’s design extends beyond the two markets. As part of the arrangement, Gurung will also give design direction to the part of the collection that is available only in Japan and other parts of Asia. His new designs for the relaunch here will also be incorporated into those collections.

Onward Kashiyama launched the bridge collection with Michael Kors at the helm in 1995, introducing it in Great Britain, Hong Kong, China, Canada, France and Italy in its first three seasons. After several years of a design studio in charge of the brand, Onward Kashiyama tapped Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren to design ICB, which is short for International Concept Brand, in 2001. Horsting and Snoeren no longer design the collection, and Onward Kashiyama stopped distributing ICB in the U.S. in 2002.

Gurung said the move will provide him with “the opportunity to experience the outstanding production and technology in Japan as well as the company-owned factories in Italy. The ICB collection itself, with its price point and appeal, provides a new perspective for me as a designer.”

It is also possible that the association with Onward Kashiyama could eventually help Gurung with the distribution for his own, namesake designer label throughout Asia. Gurung added that he would like to “bring a fresh perspective to ICB’s already rich history. They have such an enormous business in Asia but the U.S. and European markets are untapped.”

Onward Kashiyama is opening a New York design studio for Gurung’s ICB collection, and the first looks will be unveiled during New York Fashion Week in February.