NEW YORK — Calvin Klein is going after the $4.4 billion retail outerwear business with a one-two punch.
Through a new licensing deal with Marvin Richards, the company will introduce Calvin Klein Collection and Calvin Klein Coats this fall in North America. Calvin Klein started out as an outerwear business 36 years ago but has only offered the category intermittently over the years.
Marvin Richards picked up the Klein coat license following the demise last year of Fairbrooke Enterprises, once the king of the outerwear business for designer labels.
During an interview, Marc Rothstein, vice president and director of Calvin Klein Coats, said, “Considering the Calvin Klein license was available and Phillips-Van Heusen had purchased Calvin Klein [last year], we felt the upside was enormous. This is the kind of deal that comes along once every 20 years for a coat maker.”
Marvin Richards is a privately held company that distributes outerwear under its proprietary labels Marvin Richards, J. Percy and M.R. Apparel. The company also makes licensed coats under the St. John Coat Collection by Marie Gray label.
Calvin Klein and Marvin Richards executives declined to give projected sales figures. Industry sources expect Calvin Klein Coats to generate $20 million in first-year volume. But the labels will have plenty of company in coat departments, where new licensed lines from DKNY, Perry Ellis, Ellen Tracy, Michael Michael Kors and Oscar by Oscar de la Renta will debut this fall. At the same time, Pirelli’s P. Zero label launches in the U.S. Outerwear executives estimated that Fairbrooke’s Calvin Klein business was less than $10 million.
When news of the Klein coat deal was announced last summer, Mark Weber, president of PVH, said, “We are focusing on business opportunities that represent large volume potential in appropriate distribution channels. Calvin began in women’s coats and this has always been an important part of our business.”
Designing a breadth of styles to allow retailers to distinguish themselves from their competitors was a priority, Rothstein said. As a result, buyers are ordering collections, not items, and Calvin Klein Coats “is not taking the same number one style and shipping it out to everyone,” he said. Calvin Klein Collection coats will be offered at about five to 10 stores and will wholesale from $375 to $1,400. Calvin Klein Coats will be sold in 20 to 25 stores and will wholesale from $125 to $350. Rainwear is available in both lines.
Calvin Klein Outerwear will open a 13,000-square-foot showroom, occupying the entire 24th floor at 512 Seventh Avenue here, later this month. In line with the designer’s minimalistic aesthetic, the space has white walls, poured concrete floors and pricey lighting fixtures, Rothstein said.
More importantly, he said, the collection reflects the designer’s signature style — something that proved to be slightly challenging initially. For Calvin Klein Collection outerwear, Francisco Costa, designer of Collection, and Kevin Kerrigan, design director for Calvin Klein and CK Calvin Klein, worked closely with Calvin Klein Coats’ Bridget Sousa, director of fashion and merchandising, and designer Autumn Kimball. “They would go through every collar, button and fabric. In the beginning, I wondered if we would ever get a sample made. But what was a difficulty initially is truly the blessing.”
Their fastidiousness translated into the 35-piece Calvin Klein Collection consisting of such designs as a double-breasted herringbone coat with beaver collar and cuffs, a single-breasted cashmere coat with notch collar and one-button closure, and a long leather coat and a storm jacket with a Rex rabbit liner. In some instances, the designers drew upon Klein’s archives and adapted classics for 2004, Rothstein said.
The better-priced collection, Calvin Klein Coats, is more casual, with wool, leather, active-inspired coats and rainwear. A double-breasted peacoat, a single-breasted belted trench, a motocross-inspired leather jacket with faux fur lining, a pillow-collared down coat and a maxi leather coat made of New Zealand lamb are among the offerings.
Plans for this fall’s Calvin Klein outerwear print advertising are still being hammered out, as are details about in-store launch events, such as one at Bergdorf Goodman and a runway show at Lord & Taylor.
On the heels of the two new coat lines, PVH plans to launch CK Calvin Klein, a bridge collection of coats, in North America for spring 2005, through a licensing deal with GAV, which has the license for the CK Calvin Klein bridge sportswear line.
— Rosemary Feitelberg