NEW YORK — Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. and Bernard Chaus Inc. have entered a licensing agreement for Chaus to manufacture and sell women’s sportswear under the Kenneth Cole Reaction label.

Paul Davril Inc., the company’s Kenneth Cole New York women’s and men’s wear licensee, will launch Kenneth Cole Reaction men’s sportswear.

Both women’s and men’s Reaction sportswear lines will be available for spring 2006 deliveries. This will be the first time the company is launching sportswear under the Kenneth Cole Reaction label, which already has a line of shoes, bags, eyewear, fragrance and outerwear.

The Kenneth Cole Reaction brand will be positioned as a better sportswear label, which Kenneth Cole New York already occupies in most department stores. According to Paul Blum, president of Kenneth Cole Productions, the company plans to elevate the Kenneth Cole New York label, both in fabric content and in price, to sit in contemporary sportswear departments.

“It’s part of our overall direction and positioning to offer designer fashion at accessible prices,” Blum said Monday, referring to the Kenneth Cole New York line. “With Reaction, we are now bringing the brand to a broader customer base. This is really a launch of a new designer lifestyle brand.”

Reaction’s wholesale price points have yet to be set.

The launch of the new Reaction sportswear lines will be supported by a marketing campaign to be launched in fall 2006.

“The brand will be positioned with extensive marketing and branding for department store shoppers,” explained Josephine Chaus, chairwoman and chief executive officer of Chaus. “It will be a versatile and stylish collection with a modern, urban feeling.”

Besides the Josephine Chaus and Chaus collections, the company also produces Cynthia Steffe and Cynthia Cynthia Steffe.

In connection with the licensing agreement, Kenneth Cole has made a $6 million equity investment in six million newly issued shares of Chaus common stock, which amounts to 21.4 percent of Chaus’ current outstanding shares.

This story first appeared in the June 14, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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