NEW YORK — After a full year of negotiations, Alvin Valley finally has a new business partner.

Jacques Moret, the activewear firm, has bought a 50 percent stake in Valley’s company from Richard Rosenthal, the designer’s business partner. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but market sources peg the purchase price at $23 million.

The Alvin Valley investment marks Moret’s move into the designer category. Jacques Moret has been on a growth track in recent years, entering several new business ventures. In addition to Everlast women’s and men’s apparel, Norma Kamali by Everlast and its core Jacques Moret label, the company makes products under license for Jockey, Spalding and Etonic, as well as Danskin’s Freestyle line sold in Target.

“We were after this for a while,” said Valley Thursday. “It finally happened [Wednesday] and I can’t believe it. Now everything will be much clearer and we’ll have a better direction.” Among his plans are to sell more stores in the U.S. and open accounts in Europe. “The business is expanding and they’ll take us to the next level,” said Valley, whose firm is based at 632 Broadway here.

Joey Harary, president of Jacques Moret, couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday, but said in an interview last year, “We think he [Valley] is a wonderful designer. We see a lot of potential there.”

In business five years, Valley achieved initial success with his tailored pants and quickly established a loyal following with his jackets and coats, as well as his cocktail dresses and gowns. The line has attracted celebrities such as Kate Winslet, Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz.

Valley’s ready-to-wear, called Alvin Valley Clothier Collection, is sold in Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and about 300 specialty stores. He introduced a contemporary collection for spring retailing called As Is by Alvin Valley, which is priced roughly 50 to 75 percent below the top line. That line is currently sold in Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and 350 specialty stores.

Valley explained that he didn’t meet Harary through an investment banker or mutual friends.

“We actually met at a sample sale that his wife was shopping at here,” said Valley. “I was going to give a lecture at Columbia Business School, and he ([Harary] heard me speak, and he said, ‘I’d like to do business with you.'” The deal is effective immediately.

This story first appeared in the January 13, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Rosenthal plans to stay on at the company for the next two months until his contract expires.

Rosenthal and Valley became partners in 2000 after they were introduced by mutual friends following the relocation of Valley’s business from Miami. Rosenthal, a former mortgage banker, became president and chief financial officer of Valley, and ran the day-to-day operations. Valley will serve as president of the company until a successor is found.

Valley plans to show his collection on Feb. 6 during New York Fashion Week at the W Hotel, where he has created exclusive pieces for its boutiques and the uniforms for Icon, one of the hotel’s restaurants.

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