MARKET BASKET

MILLER’S TIME FOR JAPAN: Nicole Miller will open its first two stores in Japan March 2. The freestanding shops — at Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel and Osaka’s Herbst shopping mall — will be about 1,500 to 1,800 square feet each and should generate about $1.5 million in first-year sales, said Bud Konheim, chief executive officer of Nicole Miller.
The ventures are part of a new exclusive distribution agreement Nicole Miller signed with retail and apparel conglomerate Sankyo-Seiko Co. The deal includes plans for a chain of Nicole Miller stores in Japan, and distribution rights for importing Miller merchandise to retail in such stores as Isetan, Seibu and Barneys Japan, Konheim noted.
Sankyo-Seiko has similar agreements with Daks, Jordache, Leonard of Paris and Hang Ten.

ANDY JOHNS EXECS QUIT: Andrew Reid and Lee Lipton resigned their positions at Biscayne Apparel last week. Reid, who launched the Andy Johns outerwear label in 1975 and sold the business to Biscayne in 1986, was most recently a vice president of sales for Andy Johns, the Lee Lipton junior outerwear line sold exclusively to Nordstrom, and the firm’s private label business.
Lipton, who was a junior partner in Andy Johns when the business was sold in 1986, was most recently a vice president of merchandising and sales for those same units. Both reported to Peter (Chip) Vandenberg, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Biscayne Apparel, who would not say why Reid and Lipton left the firm. Neither Reid nor Lipton were available for comment.
Mark Arnstein has taken over their responsibilities as national sales manager, reporting to Vandenberg. Arnstein, who was an executive sales associate, said the Lee Lipton and Andy Johns labels will continue to be marketed and remain the property of Biscayne Apparel. He added that he will focus marketing attention on the firm’s recently acquired XOXO license for junior outerwear.

AUGUST SILK’S SPINOFF: Looking to build on the success of its two-year-old dress unit, August Silk has spun off a knit dress division. Jack Weinstock, chairman and ceo, said the move is part of the firm’s “brand development on a horizontal basis.”
“We believe in cross-pollinating our brand into new divisions,” Weinstock said. “We did some testing of the silk knits for fall and holiday, and now we’re bringing it in with great depth for spring.”
The collection of spun-silk dresses, often mixed with yarns like cashmere, cotton, linen or wool, wholesales for $44 to $69 for one-piece styles, and $99 to $120 for two-piece numbers and ensembles.
Weinstock said dresses now account for 20 percent of overall women’s sales, which are projected at $200 million for 1997. For spring, he expects the knit division to account for 50 percent of overall dress business. All production is in China.
Ellen Dawson, corporate merchandising director, said the collection is aimed at a career customer who wants seasonless clothes — middleweight fabrics and easy-to-wear silhouettes. Randy Lawrence, who heads the knit dress division, said the firm’s sportswear mentality — diversified silhouettes, a wide breadth of fabrics and monthly color updates — is employed in firm’s dress unit.

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