WILSONS WHOLESALES: Wilsons Leather, a specialty retailer of leather outerwear and apparel, is entering the wholesale game.
The company, believed to be the largest leather retailer in the U.S. with 1999 sales of about $510 million, announced last week that it would begin its wholesale operation through a joint venture with Kevin Garnett, a star National Basketball Association player for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“This joint venture will launch Wilsons Leather into the business of wholesaling leather apparel and accessories, which we believe is a natural extension of our retail business,” said Joel Waller, chairman and chief executive officer of the firm.
Garnett will design a line of leather apparel and accessories called “OBF by Kevin Garnett,” featuring a selection of men’s apparel as well as complementary leather accessories. OBF stands for Official Block Family, a reference to Garnett’s friends and family.
Garnett will launch the line for holiday retailing.
“Kevin has some superb fashion ideas,” Waller said, and Garnett said he had been interested in starting a business outside basketball.
The company plans to launch OBF with a fashion show and promotional campaign with Garnett late this summer.
Wilsons currently operates 529 retail stores in 44 states, Canada and England, including 444 mall stores, 30 airport locations and 55 factory outlet stores.

BISOU-BISOU’S COATS: Bisou-Bisou, a contemporary sportswear house, has licensed Bernardo Fashions to produce and market a line of leather and cloth outerwear under its label.
The line is being introduced for fall retailing and is geared to reflect Bisou-Bisou designer Michele Bohbot’s look and style. It includes pieces like short sheared rabbit jackets in bright orange, purple and red; fitted lambskin coats, and embossed ostrich and printed snakeskin looks. Wholesale prices range from $45 to $200.
Bernardo was founded in 1989 in New York with a moderate collection of microfiber and boiled wool coats under its Bernardo label.