Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — Marc Jacobs is close to a deal with the Gilmar Group to produce and distribute his collection and a new jeanswear line worldwide.
After negotiating on and off for a year with the Italian-based apparel giant, Robert Duffy, Jacobs’s partner, confirmed that a deal is imminent but added that “nothing’s been signed.”
He said the first Marc Jacobs collection under Gilmar’s auspices would be for spring-summer 1996. Gilmar would produce and distribute a jeans line worldwide, also beginning in spring-summer ’96.
Paolo Gerani, vice president of Gilmar, which is based in San Giovanni Marignano, Italy, couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday.
Jacobs will also produce and distribute his own higher-priced collection under the working title Marc Jacobs Couture, which Jacobs and Duffy will finance themselves, said Duffy.
Jacobs, who had been a consultant to Gilmar’s Iceberg line for one year, didn’t renew his contract when it expired earlier this year because his negotiations with Gilmar for the designer collection weren’t working out.
In an interview with WWD last month, Jacobs explained: “I have so much to do here. I haven’t had the time to go back and forth.”
He said he was not able to work out a deal with Gilmar to help produce his own line, and with all the work of his collection and licensees he couldn’t afford the time away from New York.
“Unless they were doing something with us to help me with my collection, it was too time-consuming and too much travel,” he said.
Duffy said that beginning with spring-summer ’96, Jacobs would once again become a consultant to Iceberg, which he did for two seasons. He sat out the fall 1995 season.
The Jacobs collection, currently financed by Jacobs and Duffy, is sold in 18 stores. Market sources estimate the business does around $2 million in wholesale volume.
“Our problem is we’ve had requests for large distribution for this line, but we don’t want to go into mass production,” said Duffy. Most of the line, which is labor-intensive, is produced in the U.S. with small factories.
“A lot of stores would buy both lines,” said Duffy. “We do nine deliveries a year. Bigger stores want 12 deliveries a year. And our prices are very high. The [Gilmar] line will have a broader base, which we’re not equipped to do. Gilmar has amazing factories, and they’re equipped to do it.”
In addition to the collection, Jacobs has several licensees, including jewelry, scarves, shoes, coats and furs.