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Revlon Works Both Sides of the Street

NEW YORK -- Revlon Inc. sees licensing as a two-way street.

For decades, the beauty giant has been on the paying end of the process, signing deals to use names from Norman Norell to Ellen Tracy.

That was until recently, when Revlon...

NEW YORK — Revlon Inc. sees licensing as a two-way street.

For decades, the beauty giant has been on the paying end of the process, signing deals to use names from Norman Norell to Ellen Tracy.

That was until recently, when Revlon changed the rules of the licensing game by striking deals to slap its name on a dozen categories of loosely related fashion and cosmetics accessories, from hair bows to jewelry to watches to eyewear.

Revlon does not break out volume figures, but sources indicated that it generated more than $50 million in total sales of licensed products in the last 12 months, with a distribution of 12,000 chain drugstores and mass merchandiser outlets. Executives reportedly expect to double sales in the next 12 months.

Now Revlon is preparing to leap into the center of the fashion business. The company is signing deals to license the name Charlie, its 1973 international blockbuster fragrance, seeing it as an ultimate springboard to Charlie brand sportswear and jeans.

Lynn Krominga, president of the Revlon Licensing Division, said the Charlie marketing will be aimed at younger, independent-minded women and price points will be less premium-priced than the Revlon branded goods.

“It’s a mindset and an attitude,” she said. “Next, we want to make it an apparel-based program, in contrast with Revlon, which is a fashion accessory program. We are speaking to several major apparel companies.”

The company has already signed up two Charlie licensees — Gruen Marketing Corp. of Exeter, Pa., for watches and Superior Jewelry Co. of Cincinnati, for jewelry that will be shipped for fall delivery.

Being a cosmetics company in the licensing business makes Revlon different from the usual fashion house on SA, Krominga said. One advantage is Revlon’s pervasive market presence.

“We are targeted to women in the mass market. But we do have a fashion point of view,” she added, “a fashion point of view without the designer.”

In the mass market, the Revlon licensed products are priced on the same plateau as the cosmetics and fragrances — the premium-priced level of the mass market.

“We target the department store crossover customer of the Nineties,” Krominga said of consumers who often shop in drugstores and mass merchandisers. “People don’t want the prestige, but they want a fashion look and they like our price point.”

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Each product line carries suggested prices above the typical mass product in the category. For instance, the costume jewelry — manufactured by the Allison Reed Group of Providence, R.I. — carries suggested retail prices of $5 to $12.50, instead of the $1.99-to-$2.99 range normally found in the mass market.

Another example pointed out by Revlon executives is the line of 40 styles of women’s fashion watches manufactured by Advance Watch Co. Ltd. of Southfield, Mich. The Revlon watches are $29.99 to $49.99, according to executives, who noted that mass market watches are often priced at $19.99.

Among the other licensees, RGA Accessories of New York produces mostly fabric cosmetics bags. But this year, the company is doing fake lizard bags, following the fake crocodile of 1993.

In addition, the company will ship a line of small leather bags and wallets in September, priced $6 to $14. The fabric bags are $5 to $6, according to Revlon executives.

Other licensees include The Bonneau Co. of Dallas, for hair accessories and sunglasses; Helen of Troy in El Paso, Tex., for brushes, combs and electrical appliances for hair; Philips Industries of Long Island City, N.Y., for cosmetics organizers, cosmetics accessories and decorative hair accessories, and Classical Optical of Southfield, Mich., for eyeglass frames.

Conair Corp. of Stamford, Conn., does electrical hair appliances and brushes and combs for Western Europe, Scandinavia and Mexico.

Krominga said she would like to add Revlon brand hosiery and activewear licenses.

The licensing division has a staff of 10 that works closely with the licensee on every issue from product design to merchandising. Marlene Feldman is executive vice president of marketing and Chris Royer is vice president of creative design.

The degree of collaboration can be seen in most of the licensees’ display units and even some of the product packaging, which sport Revlon’s trademark red and black colors.