The Jones New York brand, which does nearly $1 billion in annual retail volume worldwide, is now under the Authentic Brands Group’s umbrella.
ABG on Tuesday acquired the intellectual property assets of the brand from private equity firm Sycamore Partners for an undisclosed amount. It’s a move that brings ABG’s portfolio — which includes firms such as Juicy Couture, Judith Leiber, Adrienne Vittadini, Taryn Rose, Misook, Marilyn Monroe, Hickey Freeman, Hart Schaffner Marx and Spyder — to more than $4.5 billion in retail sales.
Sycamore acquired the brand when it bought Jones Apparel Group for $2.2 billion in 2014. Current operations, such as stores that were a part of the former business under Sycamore’s ownership, are now in wind-down mode.
Jamie Salter, chairman and chief executive officer of ABG, said, “With a 40-year history of iconic and timeless design, Jones New York embodies American style. Our vision fuses ABG’s passion for brand-building with a 21st-century approach that will redefine this enduring classic.”
Salter explained that the company’s portfolio of women’s brands already contains many “elevated prestigious brands. With regard to a comprehensive, full-scale women’s tailored, fashion brand, there was white space within our portfolio. Having Jones New York under our umbrella puts ABG in a different strata for our women’s portfolio.” Salter said the acquisition “amps up the game” for ABG, noting that Jones’ tailored, suiting and sportswear component is “similar to Elie Tahari, Donna Karan and the Calvin Klein brands” in the contemporary-bridge category at the department store level.
“It was very important for ABG to get a staple brand for this category, especially such an American classic. This is similar to our approach in men’s when we took over ownership of the Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx brands,” Salter emphasized.
The firm is moving aggressively to implement a going-forward strategy for the brand, with the initial goal to emphasize women’s apparel and accessories as it works to rebuild Jones to its former prominence. Jones New York also had a small position in men’s tailored clothing, sportswear and accessories and a men’s component will play a role in ABG’s global growth plans for the brand.
ABG has yet to reveal its strategic partner for Jones New York in the U.S. and Canada for key categories including women’s sportswear, tailored apparel, small leather goods, footwear, home and handbags and accessories, which are slated to be in all retail doors in spring 2016. Salter declined to say who that might be, although he noted that there are discussions taking place. Since the company is looking at women’s and men’s products, the top three candidates are G-III Apparel Group Ltd., PVH Corp. and Global Brands Group. Of the three, ABG already has close ties with Global Brands Group, which is its partner in the design and production of women’s products in multiple categories and territories for the Juicy Couture, Spyder Ski and Sportswear and Adrienne Vittadini brands.
“We’re also excited to continue working with current partners on the Jones brand in other categories,” Salter said. One category example is outerwear.
Trademarks for Jones New York under ABG’s ownership include Jones New York Collection; Jones New York Signature; Jones New York Sport; Jones New York Studio; Jones JNY; Jones & Co., and Jones Studio.
The Jones brand, prior to its shutdown by Sycamore earlier this year, was sold in department stores in the U.S. and in key international markets including Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. Existing inventory will continue to be sold in those doors through the fall. The new team will soon start taking spring orders, with plans for the first deliveries in mid-November of this year.
According to Salter, ABG has already had talks with the retail community, which believes the Jones brand “still resonates strongly with consumers and, more importantly, will continue to have the same distribution strategy and licensing partners they’ve had in the past for over a decade,” he said.
ABG also has hired Mark Weber as a strategic adviser to the company. Weber most recently was chief executive officer of LVMH Inc. and chairman and ceo of Donna Karan International and Thomas Pink. Because the position is not full-time, and is part of Weber’s consultancy practice — he is a consultant to Relativity and LVMH Inc. — he remains free to work part-time on his second book, this time about law and fashion. Weber’s son Jarrod Weber works at ABG as vice president of its men’s division, which is how he got to know Salter and Nick Woodhouse, ABG’s president and chief marketing officer.
“I will devote whatever time I can and help in whatever way I can,” he said. “This is a labor of love. The Jones brand has had billions in sales over a long period of time. Whether it’s attention loss or whatnot, somewhere along the way, the brand had not been given the attention, nurturing, care or excitement it deserved. Whether it’s product or marketing, ABG’s reinvention of the brand will allow it to be repositioned so it can have a great chance of being extraordinarily important again.”
Weber added that the “big retailers need big brands” and the companies that back them to fill the volume needed at all those doors. “Regardless of where Jones was, the brand can still be the force that it was in the department store doors. It just needs the right management and ABG can do this in a relatively short order.”
Weber said he’s up to the challenge: “There are many issues in relaunching a brand, issues that I’ve lived through many times.”
Separately, ABG also named Javier Brandwain as managing director for Latin America and the Caribbean to lead ABG’s growth in those territories. Brandwain will be based in Montevideo, Uruguay and will have oversight for licensing, joint venture partnerships and direct-to-retail opportunities.