NEW YORK — Ellen Tracy is getting a major platform for its debut in better departments: Macy’s Inc.

This story first appeared in the October 1, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Under Brand Matter LLC’s new operating license with RVC Enterprises, sources said Ellen Tracy has forged an exclusive sportswear deal with Macy’s, which is expected to roll out 100 in-store shops for the better-price line beginning this spring. There are reportedly plans for additional in-store shops and categories over time.

This confirms a report in WWD that Ellen Tracy was in discussions with a major retail group about an exclusive arrangement.

Neither Ellen Tracy nor Macy’s officials were available Wednesday to comment on the new deal.

Ellen Tracy’s licensees in areas such as footwear, coats and suits, which are already positioned in the better category, would still be allowed to sell to other department stores under the new arrangement, said sources.

Exclusive retail partnerships with brands continue to be an important vehicle to gain market share and customer loyalty. A Macy’s deal with Ellen Tracy would join the growing list of exclusive relationships the department store has with brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Martha Stewart, Donald Trump and Rachel Roy.

Ellen Tracy’s decision to exit the bridge floor this past summer put major real estate in limbo at key accounts such as Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Dillard’s and Lord & Taylor — and was a blow to a brand that was once the undisputed leader of the category, with sales of more than $170 million at wholesale at its peak. It also represented yet another roadblock in retailers’ attempts to reinvigorate the bridge market.

The Ellen Tracy business at RVC is headed by Mark Mendelson, president.

In other news, RVC has been licensed to manufacture and market Rocawear junior sportswear, effective with current fall shipments. That line had been produced by Signature Apparel Group. Last month, three of Signature’s creditors sought to force the Rocawear licensee into bankruptcy. The petitioning creditors, representing about $14.9 million in debt past due, filed an involuntary Chapter 7 petition in a Manhattan bankruptcy court on Sept. 4.

In addition to Ellen Tracy and Rocawear junior sportswear, RVC, which is based at 1384 Broadway here, manufactures Deréon, Luxirie by LRG and Ten Twenty Five.

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