MILAN — Liberty of London has teamed with Italian manufacturer Slowear Group to launch a namesake men’s wear collection.

This story first appeared in the May 11, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The 200-piece line, which marks Liberty’s first licensing pact, will bow in Milan in June for spring 2011. The project is a major step toward the international transformation of the Liberty of London label and its print heritage into a contemporary fashion line.

The 59-year-old Slowear Group, which owns a crop of high-end brands that includes Incotex, Zanone, Montedoro and Glanshirt, will apply its tailoring expertise to Liberty’s collection of shirts, trousers, outerwear and knitwear.

From a fashion perspective, the clothes will feature Liberty’s iconic prints, which will be reedited by an international design team with a modern sartorial-meets-Swinging London vibe. “However, the prints won’t be the sole characterizing trait of the clothes as the attention is on the Liberty tradition in both taste and research,” said Mario Griariotto, chief executive officer of Slowear.

Sales in six years should reach a minimum of 30 million euros, or $38.6 million at current exchange rates.

The new collection is an evolution of Liberty’s shorts, scarves and knits that have been developed in-house since 2005.

“We see this as a new beginning for the Liberty of London brand. We wanted a licensing partner because it would have taken us years to build up the expertise of Slowear, which provides us with the scale, expertise and track record to design, manufacture and distribute men’s fashion globally,” said Liberty’s ceo Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye.

He added the company is looking to a similar licensing deal for the Liberty of London women’s wear line, though “we are in no rush. We want to find the right partner.”

Besides being carried in Liberty’s London flagship, Griariotto expects initial distribution to about 200 doors in four key markets — the U.S, the U.K., Italy and Asia, where the focus will be on Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

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