Sean John has made its first major apparel foray into a market outside North America via an exclusive distribution agreement with Spanish department store El Corte Inglés. The upscale retailer has installed shop-in-shops in six stores in Spain, which are carrying Sean John men’s sportswear, outerwear, suits, dress shirts, ties and accessories.

This story first appeared in the May 21, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Sean John’s two fragrances, Unforgivable and I Am King, both licensed to the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., were previously distributed in European markets, including Spain. “We had a lot of success with the scents in Spain, and we decided this would be an ideal partnership for our first apparel launch in Europe,” said Dawn Robertson, president of Sean John.

The company has not yet determined which other international markets it might enter. “We’re testing Spain and learning. It’s an interesting and exciting new opportunity for us,” noted Robertson.

However, distribution within El Corte Inglés could include Portugal next year, as the three-year agreement encompasses the two Iberian countries. Sean John has previously operated small overseas businesses in Latin America and Scandinavia.

The first Sean John shops in El Corte Inglés bowed in March, and plans call to expand to 15 doors by 2010. As of February 2008, El Corte Inglés, which is Spain’s largest department store, operated 68 doors in its home country and two in Portugal.

There are no plans for Sean “Diddy” Combs, founder and chief executive of Sean John, to visit Spain to promote the launch.

“We want to be very careful how we roll out the brand internationally in order to preserve its cachet and aspirational quality,” said Jeff Tweedy, executive vice president of New York-based Sean John, which is owned by Combs and The Yucaipa Cos.