NEW YORK — Sean “Diddy” Combs’ women’s contemporary line is barely off the ground and he’s already adding a little sister.
Sean John, the lifestyle brand that generates $450 million at retail, has signed a licensing agreement with G-III Apparel Group, based here, to manufacture and distribute a women’s sportswear collection called simply Sean John and set to launch for spring 2007. Within three years, G-III chief executive officer Morris Goldfarb said the brand has the potential to grow into a $100 million business at wholesale.
“I thought I’d be launching this earlier,” Combs said Tuesday, “but it took me a bit longer to launch Sean by Sean Combs [his contemporary collection introduced at retail last holiday]. I think now is a great time to announce to the world that we’re going into production on this.”
The young contemporary line will mirror the Sean John men’s collection in distribution and price point, and initially will be available in the Sean John flagship here, as well as at select department stores and specialty boutiques around the world.
“It’s not like we don’t see Baby Phat everyday and we don’t realize we can go in and get some of that market share,” Combs continued. “But there’s a way that I do things. My plan is aspirational. I’m a five-year planner. I already know what I want to do in 2010.”
“[The collection] will be very fast and very sexy,” said Goldfarb. “The appetite at retail is just huge. We’ve polled the department stores and they can’t wait for this to happen. We talked to a lot of specialty stores about the availability of space for this product line. Everyone is excited.”
Goldfarb said the collection will be comprehensive — tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear and denim. The wholesale price range will be between $14 and $250 for some of the outerwear pieces, also to be manufactured by G-III. Denim will retail for less than $100, in the range of $79 to $99. The collection will be driven by “fashion and quality,” Goldfarb said, not the Sean John logo.
“It’s a collection of sportswear that will cater to a young woman who wants to wear this clothing to a club, but there will be components of it that will be more for play or a little more dressy. Down the road,” Goldfarb said, “there will be pieces that will cater to the working woman, as well.”
Unlike the existing Sean by Sean Combs contemporary line, which hangs in stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman, this collection, Goldfarb said, will “have a more junior feel.”
“It’ll be a little bit more luxury than you would see in Baby Phat,” he said. “It will be competing with Ralph Lauren for space and, we believe, the space that’s been open through Tommy’s [Hilfiger] lack of performance will be filled by some of this product.”
“I think this collection will represent where Sean John men’s has evolved to,” Combs said. “We’re known as the first guys to shrink the logos. We see that happening in women’s, too. It’s not like years ago, where you see everyone’s name plastered across their chests. We’re going to come in and be a force to be reckoned with.”
Combs said he has been in a five-year partnership with G-III, the manufacturer of the Sean John men’s outerwear collection, and was pleased with Goldfarb’s way of running the company. G-III manufactures and distributes outerwear and sportswear for a host of brands, including Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, Nine West, Jones Apparel, Izod, Donald Trump, Guess, Cole Haan and Ellen Tracy. It also owns the Marvin Richards, Black Rivet, Winlit, LNR, La Nouvelle Renaissance, Colebrook and Siena Studio labels.
“I see the pride and due diligence they put in,” Combs said. “When I wanted to impact sales and grow the Sean John business, they were with me 1,000 percent. We’re going to make this a $100 million wholesale business. [Goldfarb] is a man of his word. He’s going to make sure I have the dream team around me.”
“Sean and I have discussed doing a women’s collection for probably more than five years,” said Goldfarb. “He now feels that the timing is appropriate to bring out a collection of very sexy clothing. He certainly knows how to do that, and we know how to manufacture, design and produce it. Collaborating with Sean will just be a wonderful thing.”
A designer has not been named, but Goldfarb said he is “seeking the top designers in our industry.” He continued, “We’ll seek out the appropriate talent to lead this new area of business for us. Sean is very vocal about how he’d like to see it done.”
In June, Combs unveiled the Sean by Sean Combs collection for holiday. “This is the woman the Sean John man wants,” he told WWD in an interview at his west side apartment. Wholesale prices for that collection range from $62 to $847.
Earlier this week, Jenny La Fata, the vice president of design for Sean John women’s apparel, was snatched up by Le Tigre, taking over as fashion director for the women’s and men’s collections.
Combs said no replacement has been named thus far for La Fata, but that an internal design team is picking up the slack. “We’ve been able to move ahead in a positive way,” he said.
Combs explained that the Sean by Sean Combs collection has “nothing to do” with the new Sean John women’s collection, but added that he sees the potential for the Sean John women’s consumer to graduate into the Sean by Sean Combs contemporary line.