Byline: James Fallon
CK LANDS IN EUROPE
LONDON — Calvin Klein wants its jeans to be as hot in Europe as they are in America, so the company has enlisted some local help to light the fire. The designer company and the Fratini Group formed a joint venture last May under which the Italian company manufactures and distributes Calvin Klein Jeans throughout Europe. Fratini, which owns a majority of Calvin Klein Jeanswear Europe SpA, also owns the jeanswear company Super Rifle SpA.
Fratini has set up Calvin Klein Jeans showrooms here and at its headquarters in Florence to handle the brand’s two largest current markets. The remainder of Western Europe is handled by agents. Fratini has appointed distributors in Eastern Europe in Russia and Hungary, and plans to add other countries in subsequent seasons.
The first European Calvin Klein collection was launched in July 1995 for spring 1996, and in the UK alone it already has sold close to 500,000 pieces of basic blue denim and more fashionable flesh-colored products, said Fabio Fusco, managing director of Calvin Klein Jeanswear Europe. The company’s target is to sell 2.5 million to 3 million pieces in the first year, said Corrado Fratini, owner of the Fratini Group.
“We have significantly increased our first-year target, based on the sales during the first season,” he said. “Our first-year target before we began selling the spring 1996 collection was only 600,000 pieces.”
This higher sales target illustrates why it is necessary for an American brand that wants to expand in Europe to have a local partner with its own production facilities, Fusco said. The arrangement provides the flexibility to adapt to demand and to local market tastes.
“Our strategy is to be the Levi’s of the designer jeans business,” he said. “Levi’s is the best jeans company in the world at using its technical know-how and a global approach to manufacturing and sourcing. We want to use our technical know-how and marry it to a strong designer name like Calvin Klein.”
The technical knowledge extends to service to retailers, Fratini said. His group plans a pilot program this month that will link the 500-square-foot Calvin Klein Jeans in-store shop at Selfridges’ department store, here, directly to Fratini’s headquarters in Florence so that sales can be monitored and production adjusted accordingly.
The company plans to open another in-store shop for men’s jeans in Galeries Lafayette this spring, and more such shops in France and other European countries in fall 1996. These will be added to the system. (There are no plans to open freestanding Calvin Klein Jeans stores in Europe, since the designer retains the right to open his own boutiques here.)
Fratini eventually wants to extend the computer system to cover Klein agents and distributors, directly linking them to the Fratini warehouse so they know the state of their orders. This would allow restocking in two or three days, Fusco said, adding that such an electronic data interchange system is probably two or three years away.
Currently the entire European Calvin Klein Jeans line is produced in Italy, although as the company expands the collection, Fratini will begin sourcing from other factories that will manufacture under its direction, Fusco said.
The first full collection of both basic and fashion items will be for delivery to stores in fall 1996. In addition to denim and tops, the line will include knitwear and leather outerwear. Fratini hopes to expand accessories in the collection, although many of these products are controlled by other Klein licensees.
The Fratini executives stressed that the European Calvin Klein products are completely different from their American counterparts, which have been sold selectively in Europe for several seasons.
The European products have more washes, are made of better fabrics and come in European as well as American sizes, Fusco said — more reasons American brands need local partners.
The differences extend to marketing and advertising. Ad campaigns are prepared under the direction of Klein executives in the U.S., but are adapted to the European market. For that reason, Fratini has no plans to use the teenage ads that were so controversial in the U.S.
“As soon as we saw them, we said no; it wouldn’t work here,” Fusco said. “We will use the basic Calvin Klein images with Kate Moss and other models.”
KENAR DOES DENIM
Kenar, the contemporary sportswear firm, has added a denim group to its spring offerings.
The fabrics in the group include lightweight ringspun denim, 14-ounce denim and a laminated denim. First delivery is scheduled for Feb. 15.
Styles include a short and a long dress, a 16-inch skirt, a short-sleeved shirt, a multi-pocket fisherman’s vest, a zip-front vest and jacket, basic five-pocket jeans and two styles in laminated denim. Wholesale prices run from $30 to $40. So far, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom have placed orders.
NEW FACE FOR TARRANT
Tarrant Apparel Group, which manufactures private label denim and apparel, has appointed Walter L. Krieger to its board. He had been vice president of financial operations for Liz Claiborne Inc. Krieger, 60, replaces Jacques Gaston Murray, who has retired.