Rock & Republic Goes Exclusive with Kohl’s

Brand-owner VF to supply men’s and women’s denim, related sportswear and footwear.

Kohl’s Corp. and VF Corp. have signed a deal that will bring the Rock & Republic label to Kohl’s stores exclusively, beginning in spring 2012. The brand will launch in all 1,097 Kohl’s doors with men’s and women’s denim, related sportswear and footwear and might expand into children’s, accessories and home over time.

This story first appeared in the April 29, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Pricing has not been finalized for the new product lines but will be well below the $200-and-up mark the brand made its glitzy name on following its founding by Michael Ball and Andréa Bernholtz in 2002. VF Corp. completed its acquisition of the Rock & Republic trademarks and related intellectual property on March 30 for $57 million, after the once high-rolling, Los Angeles-based firm filed for bankruptcy in April 2010 in one of the premium denim world’s more notable flameouts.

Rock & Republic will join a growing portfolio of exclusive brands at Kohl’s, which in 2010 accounted for 48 percent of the retailer’s $18.4 billion in sales. Those brands include Simply Vera Vera Wang, LC Lauren Conrad, Elle Contemporary Collection, Daisy Fuentes and apt. 9. This fall, the company will debut its much-hyped Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony women’s and men’s collections in partnership with LF USA.

At VF, Rock & Republic is the first brand under its Retail Licensed Brands Group, which was formed in 2009 to acquire and license brands to the Greensboro, N.C.-based apparel giant’s top retail partners.

“We have a very large business with Kohl’s through our Lee Jeans division, as well as our Vans, JanSport and licensed sports divisions. Our Lee teams know the Kohl’s stores incredibly well and we’ll leverage that expertise for the Rock & Republic jeans,” said David Conn, president of the Retail Licensed Brands Group.

The deal with Kohl’s is a hybrid wholesale and license model. VF Corp. will manufacture and wholesale to Kohl’s the denim component of the Rock & Republic offerings while the Kohl’s private label team in New York will design and source all the other product categories under license, paying royalties to VF.

Kohl’s will manage the distribution and marketing of all the Rock & Republic branded merchandise.