LACROIX IN JAPANESE DISTRIBUTION VENTURE

PARIS — Christian Lacroix wants to be big in Japan.
On Tuesday, the French house, part of luxury giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, announced a 10-year distribution pact with Sankyo Seiko Co. Ltd.
Highlights of the plan include opening five freestanding boutiques and 30 corners in Japan over the next five years. The first — a two-level, 3,300-square-foot flagship — is slated to open in May in Tokyo’s trendy Daikanyama neighborhood, which boasts such retail tenants as Jean Paul Gaultier. A 1,300-square-foot Lacroix unit in Osaka is also slated for a spring debut.
The pact with Sankyo Seiko, which also distributes the Leonard and Dacks brands in Japan, represents a new direction for Lacroix. In the past, there had been some local manufacturing of Lacroix apparel.
Lacroix president Jean-Pierre Debu told WWD that the strategy is to build the brand image by importing from Europe Lacroix’s three ready-to-wear lines — the Christian Lacroix collection, Bazar and Christian Lacroix Jeans — as well as select accessories. Licensed products, such as children’s wear and women’s footwear, will be added later.
“If you want to have a strong image in Japan, you have to import your top lines,” he said. “The spirit is not to make quick money. It is a long-term contract. We’re rebuilding everything.”
At present, the only Lacroix product available in the Japanese market is eyewear, produced under license by Nikon.
Debu characterized a strong presence in Japan as essential to a global fashion brand and said that Asia should ideally account for one-third of Lacroix sales, with Japan representing about half of that. Europe and the U.S. ideally should contribute equally to the remaining two-thirds of revenues, he added.
With fashion returning to more decorative looks, Debu said: “Style wise, we are in a good moment. It was really the right time to come back in Japan strongly and to show everybody that we are confident and that LVMH is also confident in the future of the brand.”

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