BONJOUR IN LICENSE PACT WITH LEVY FOR SPRING ’03

Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — Bonjour has signed a licensing deal with the Levy Group to produce moderate-price sportswear and jeans for spring 2003.
Impressed with the Levy Group’s 10-year-old sportswear division, Wildlife, Bonjour decided to nix its original plan to produce jeans in-house. The Levy Group is widely known for its outerwear, but $40 million of its $200 million business stems from Wildlife, said Bonjour Group managing director Carmine Porcelli.
Bonjour also is considering developing an outerwear line down-the-road, he said.
Bonjour sportswear and denim will be aimed at the “hip new moderate zone” in department stores and is “not looking to be just another brand fitting in,” Porcelli said. The sportswear and denim will be designed to work together and should ring up $10 million in first-year wholesale volume, he said.
This is the first time Bonjour non-denim sportswear has been offered. The brand has largely been known for its tight-fitting jeans, which were popular with high school girls in the Eighties. The company has not produced jeans since the early Nineties. The Bonjour Group also produces the Faded Glory jeans line for Wal-Mart and Route 66 jeans for Kmart.
Bonjour’s new look will be previewed at the Wildlife showroom at 1411 Broadway in June, and officially launched in August. Wildlife is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Levy Group, which already houses its Wildlife and Maren sportswear labels.
“This is a huge opportunity in moderate sportswear to have a lifestyle brand,” said Donald Levy, president of the Levy Group. “We’re always looking to grow and expand our company with relationships that make sense.”
In addition to the sportswear labels, the Levy Group produces outerwear under the Liz Claiborne, Dana Buchman, Esprit, Donnybrook and Braetan labels.
Porcelli noted that the offerings “will have a definite edge and won’t be in any way another basic five-pocket jean.” Knits and woven jackets, skirts, pants and denim will wholesale from $14 to $30, with jeans wholesaling for $14 to $20. Bonjour is going after women who can no longer shop in the junior department, but want an “updated contemporary missy fit,” Porcelli said.
“We are building a business, we’re not just getting the numbers out there. We’re going to be very controlled in the selling of it and we want to be sure we keep it where we have some relevance and sell-throughs,” Porcelli said. “We’re not trying to overindulge the market to try to become a huge, billion-dollar player overnight. In today’s world, there is so much product already out there, that we need to keep it distinctive and build a signature look.”
To try to do that, the company will spend upward of $1 million for an outdoor advertising campaign on taxis, buses and kiosks. The Bonjour Group also is pursuing licenses for women’s accessories, sleepwear and fragrance.

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