Byline: Samantha Conti, Milan / James Fallon, London

MILAN — Gruppo Lineapiu, the Italian yarn and clothing manufacturer, has purchased Julien Macdonald’s label and has formed a new company that it will control jointly with the Welsh designer. Lineapiu said in a statement Monday that it would also produce and distribute the designer’s women’s ready-to-wear line starting with the fall 2001 season.
The company did not disclose the price of the transaction.
Macdonald, 28, and a graduate of London’s Royal College of Art, is known for his flashy knitwear. He has worked with Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel and with Alexander McQueen.
Finding the right financing for his company, which he founded in 1997 and has operated on a shoestring budget, had been an issue — until now. In an interview, Macdonald said he had approached the company’s owners to find out if they knew of anyone who would be interested in backing him. Lineapiu, which had helped the designer fund his first-ever runway show, agreed to step in with an escalating investment over the next five years, dependent on Macdonald meeting certain sales targets. The designer declined to reveal the level of the investment.
“It was a make-or-break situation for me,” Macdonald told WWD. “This will enable me to develop a wider line including more tailoring, jeans and accessories. We also will be able to cut our prices, because now it will be manufactured rather than handmade. In the next few years, if I hit the sales targets, the big money starts flowing for advertising and opening my own shop.”
In return, Lineapiu stands to benefit from Macdonald’s advice on yarn development. He’s worked with the company for the last several years, and two years ago helped link it up with Swarovski Crystal. The two companies subsequently developed a yarn embedded with crystals, which meant they no longer had to be sewn on by hand. The yarn has become one of Lineapiu’s best sellers, Macdonald said.
In addition to producing yarn, Lineapiu also manufactures and distributes apparel under license for designers Jan & Carlos, Samsonite Black Label and Isetan. It is owned by Giuliano Coppini, and based in Capalle, which is located between Florence and Prato. Julien Macdonald is the firm’s first fashion acquisition. Lineapiu had sales of $145.5 million in 1999.
“We’ve always been interested in promoting young designers, which is why we bought Julian’s label,” said Lola Copping, head of public relations for the company. “We know Julian because we are his yarn supplier, and we have every intention of investing in his collection and distributing it more widely.” Copping added that Macdonald would probably continue to show his collection in London, although the new, jointly owned company would be based in Capalle.

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