PARIS — The house of Martine Sitbon said Friday it has signed a licensing agreement with the Italian company Gibo, which also manufactures Helmut Lang, Alexander McQueen and Jean Colonna.
Starting with the spring/summer 1999 collection, Gibo will manufacture the Sitbon line in its Bergamo factory. Gibo’s parent, Onward Kashiyama, will handle Sitbon’s distribution in the U.S. and the U.K., as well as in Japan, where it has distributed Sitbon for two seasons.
The house is launching a knitwear line called Martine Sitbon Tricot and produced by Paola Bizzini Manufacturing of Modena, Italy. Previously, Bizzini made all Sitbon’s ready-to-wear.
The designer could not be reached for comment, but a spokeswoman said she was delighted because Gibo provided know-how and expertise that would allow the company to expand internationally. “Gibo is a powerful machine, and it’s a very reassuring name for retailers because they deliver on time and they provide a quality follow-through,” the spokeswoman said.
Sitbon’s company will handle its French distribution; agents for other key markets are L.A. Distribuzione in Italy and On Stage in Germany.
Although Sitbon, 48, puts on one of this city’s must-see shows for magazine fashion editors and stylists each season, industry sources noted she has never been able to expand her business as successfully as some of her contemporaries. The company does not disclose sales.
Last year, Sitbon’s main Korean shareholder nearly went bankrupt as the Asian financial crisis took its toll. The house is in talks with a new group of Koreans to provide backing.
The line is sold in more than 100 doors in 20 countries, including Barneys, Isetan in Japan, Joyce in Hong Kong and Eickhoff in Germany. Printemps department store and the specialty stores L’Eclaireur, Onward and Maria Luisa carry the line here, and the company has a boutique on the Left Bank.

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