LOS ANGELES — Denim designer Adriano Goldschmied, who cofounded Diesel more than 35 years ago, has sold the trademark of his AG Adriano Goldschmied label to Koos Mfg. and plans to launch a sportswear line.

This story first appeared in the September 16, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

For four years, Goldschmied, 60, has designed his namesake line in partnership with Koos, a private label manufacturer based in Los Angeles. Goldschmied’s contract was expiring this year and he chose not to renew it. He said he “didn’t want to spend time with lawyers” and sold the company name to Koos in a “multimillion-dollar” deal. Neither Goldschmied nor Koos disclosed the price.

“Koos Mfg. was about the five-pocket jean and I couldn’t develop more product for my line,” said Goldschmied, whose final day at Koos was Friday. “My idea was to promote my own brand and [company owner Yul Ku’s] idea was to promote Koos Mfg. Those two things, of course, are in conflict.”

Goldschmied’s denim roots go back three decades, most notably to Diesel, which he founded with Renzo Rosso in Italy in 1978 under the Genius Group. The pair parted ways in 1985 and Rosso assumed full ownership of the Diesel operation.

Goldschmied will continue to be based in L.A. and plans to begin a new line in February with a possible early debut of sportswear in November during market week here. Knits will follow, as will denim, once his noncompete clause expires on Jan. 31.

“Fashion is happening in L.A. and L.A. is the perfect place to be,” he said.

Michael Press, Koos’ vice president of sales, said a new design team is in place, including new hires as well as employees who had worked under Goldschmied, to focus on the fall 2005 line. He said the line’s premium denim retails for $120 and $150 and is on track to hit $40 million in wholesale volume this year.

“We don’t have a lot of concerns,” Press said. “Seven [For All Mankind] lost its entire design team [in December 2002] and its business has continued to grow.”

Koos has been reinventing itself as a producer of brands. Its private label portfolio included clients Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap Inc. and The Limited. Now it works primarily with the Buckle teen chain, said Janet Kim, assistant to company owner Yul Ku. Last year, it signed a deal with Swiss company Big Star Holding AG to license the denim brand in the U.S. and Mexico.

As to whether AG Adriano Goldschmied will still have its cachet without its founder, Sam Ben-Avraham, owner of the Atrium boutique in New York, said, “We will continue to carry it as long as it’s good.”

Ben-Avraham said he is a friend of the designer and looks forward to seeing his new line.

“He’s the godfather of denim and everything he touches turns to gold,” Ben-Avraham said.

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