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LONDON — Sean “Diddy” Combs wants to plant a fashion flag in Europe.
This story first appeared in the September 30, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Combs on Monday introduced the Sean John label he founded in 1998 to London, where he met with retailers and potential licensing partners to explore selling the collection here.
“We had planned on [bringing the collection to Europe] three years ago but then the recession came and we really wanted to focus on making sure we stayed consistent in the U.S.,” said Combs, who wore a custom-made Sean John suit. “But right now with what’s going on economically in Europe there’s opportunities, because people still need exciting things going on in their stores to keep people coming in…we feel now the time is right to really start the conversation.”
Combs and his team arrived with a selection of men’s and women’s looks, along with accessories, which they showed at a light-filled suite at the Sanderson Hotel to give potential partners a taste of the label. A Sean John spokeswoman said the brand could begin retailing in Europe as early as fall 2011.
“The feedback we’ve been hearing…is that the aesthetic has surprised some people — it already does feel like it has a European flair to it,” said Steve McSween, vice president of design for sportswear and licensed collections at Sean John. “There’s historical men’s references, but just done a little cooler and a little cleaner to epitomize [Combs’] lifestyle.”
Combs added, “I think, if anything, our product is more appealing to Europe now than ever.”
The spring 2011 collection on show included men’s sweaters with intarsia military motifs, slim fit men’s jeans in faded khaki washes and silk bomber jackets. Sean John men’s suiting, produced under license with Peerless, including pieces such as a navy blazer with silver buttons, was also on display. In addition, the label showed some women’s wear, such as tailored leather jackets and puff-shouldered bomber jackets, which it produces with Icer Brands.
The price points for the line in Europe will depend on licensing and retail partners, McSween said. The label would likely aim for a market in Europe that is similar to its prime U.S. niche, 25- to 28-year-old men.
“They’re making a little money, they’re spending a little money, and they’re realizing that they’ve got to up their game when it comes to putting their attire together,” McSween said of the demographic. “[Sean John isn’t] ahead of trend, it’s on trend.” He noted that the brand also attracts a 40-plus customer, who has been buying from the label since it launched.
Combs said the European buyers who had seen the collection were surprised. “Almost anyone who has come here today was like, ‘I thought the product would have logos on it, I thought it would be baggy,’ when actually it’s timeless fashion, it has a little aspiration and it’s very clean…it’s great product,” he said.