DONNA KARAN, MENDES IN TALKS ON PRODUCING SIGNATURE COLLECTION

Byline:

PARIS — Is Donna Karan going to show in Paris? If a deal currently being discussed is closed, she probably will.
Executives from Donna Karan are currently in talks with the French ready-to-wear manufacturer Mendes about signing a worldwide manufacturing agreement to produce the designer’s signature collection.
Reached in New York, Karan confirmed that talks are under way, but she stressed that the discussions are still preliminary. “We are in exploratory talks,” she said. “We have spoken to the Mendes Group, amongst others.”
“Our European business is building very rapidly,” she said. “There are issues that have to be explored on how to make the business more effective.”
According to sources, one issue under discussion is the scope of Mendes’s roll. Under one scenario, Mendes would handle all manufacturing of the collection and the distribution, except for Japan and the U.S., which Karan would continue to control, the sources said.
One consideration is the logistics of showing the collection to a growing list of European retail clients. Karan now has five freestanding European stores — one each in London, Geneva, and Basel, Switzerland, and two in Geneva. Karan’s London shop sells the DKNY bridge line, but a second store for collection apparel is planned. Retail distribution is now being established in Germany, and the Italian business continues to evolve.
Karan said it is conceivable that she would eventually show her signature collection during the Paris shows. “I would look at opportunities to show in Europe to satisfy my European customers.”
One source in Paris said that if Karan does enter this alliance with Mendes, she will very likely present her collection in Paris this fall. “In the case that Donna Karan is manufactured totally in Europe, it would be logical and make sense for her to show in Paris,” the source said.
“Nothing has been signed, and it isn’t going to be in the next few months. There is as much chance of her signing as not signing.”
Karan in New York noted that the Essentials portion of the collection, a line of classic Karan silhouettes spun off from the signature line three years ago, is now being shown to retailers in Milan.
She added that the signature and Essentials collections are on the table in the Mendes discussion. However, DKNY is not included in the talks.
Part of the collection is manufactured in Italy now, as well as in Hong Kong and the U.S. According to industry estimates, Karan’s designer apparel collection does a global business of $80 million annually, which is smaller than DKNY. About 50 percent of the collection’s total is done outside the U.S., with a strong market in Japan as well as Europe, according to Stephen Ruzow, president of Donna Karan Cos.
Mendes, which already produces the top lines of Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix, is widely regarded as one of France’s finest apparel makers.
Mendes is part of the Devanlay/Indreco group, which is controlled by Leon Cligman, a tight-lipped French businessman who never gives interviews. The group has annual revenues of around $700 million and controls the worldwide licensing of Lacoste as well as producing a slew of underwear lines.
In 1992, it took over the license to Lacroix’s signature collection and opened an extension to its state-of-the-art Loire Valley facility to manufacture it. The same plant produces YSL’s Rive Gauche collection.
said. “We have spoken to the Mendes Group, amongst others.”
“Our European business is building very rapidly,” she said. “There are issues that have to be explored on how to make the business more effective.”
According to sources, one issue under discussion is the scope of Mendes’s roll. Under one scenario, Mendes would handle all manufacturing of the collection and the distribution, except for Japan and the U.S., which Karan would continue to control, the sources said.
One consideration is the logistics of showing the collection to a growing list of European retail clients. Karan now has five freestanding European stores — one each in London, Geneva, and Basel, Switzerland, and two in Zurich. Karan’s London shop sells the DKNY bridge line, but a second store for collection apparel is planned. Retail distribution is now being established in Germany, and the Italian business continues to evolve.
Karan said it is conceivable that she would eventually show her signature collection during the Paris shows. “I would look at opportunities to show in Europe to satisfy my European customers.”
One source in Paris said that if Karan does enter this alliance with Mendes, she will very likely present her collection in Paris this fall. “In the case that Donna Karan is manufactured totally in Europe, it would be logical and make sense for her to show in Paris,” the source said.
“Nothing has been signed, and it isn’t going to be in the next few months. There is as much chance of her signing as not signing.”
Karan in New York noted that the Essentials portion of the collection, a line of classic Karan silhouettes spun off from the signature line three years ago, is now being shown to retailers in Milan.
She added that the signature and Essentials collections are on the table in the Mendes discussion. However, DKNY is not included in the talks.
Part of the collection is manufactured in Italy now, as well as in Hong Kong and the U.S. According to industry estimates, Karan’s designer apparel collection does a global business of $80 million annually, which is smaller than DKNY. About 50 percent of the collection’s total is done outside the U.S., with a strong market in Japan as well as Europe, according to Stephen Ruzow, president of Donna Karan Cos.
Mendes, which already produces the top lines of Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix, is widely regarded as one of France’s finest apparel makers.
Mendes is part of the Devanlay/Indreco group, controlled by Leon Cligman, a tight-lipped French businessman who never gives interviews. The group has annual revenues of $700 million.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus