Rolling With the Punches: Sale of Joe Boxer Label Is Said to Be Imminent

Joe Boxer, the high-profile label best known for its outrageous marketing and underwear, is close to being sold.

The marketing of the Joe Boxer brand at Kmart even created an instant celebrity, Vaughn Lowery, best known for dancing the “Joe Boxer Boogie” in a b-t-s television commercial plugging the collection.

Joe Boxer at Kmart — at one point, available at the discounter in men’s and women’s underwear, loungewear and sleepwear; in women’s accessories, and select home goods — was considered groundbreaking due to the brand’s migration from department stores.

Because of a lack of success in luring big-name labels, mass retailers typically rely on proprietary brands to fill the void. Kmart, which counted on Martha Stewart Everyday as the chain’s biggest volume brand, was no exception. Other proprietary brands in the Kmart stable at the time included Jaclyn Smith, Route 66 and Kathy Ireland.

Kmart, which exited Chapter 11 in May 2003 as Kmart Holding Corp., merged in March with Sears, Roebuck & Co. and the new combined entity operates under the corporate umbrella Sears Holdings Corp.

At the time of Windsong’s acquisition, Joe Boxer had a wholesale volume of $100 million, and was sold primarily at department stores, including Federated Department Stores, May Department Stores, Saks Inc., Dillard’s and Marshall Field’s.

Since the Kmart merger with Sears, Joe Boxer hasn’t had much of a presence at Kmart, and certainly not in the Sears stores. The brand has “been cut way back,” according to one licensing source. The source, who deals primarily with brands in the mass market channel, said the plan for Joe Boxer “going forward, will be only in [women’s] intimates and men’s underwear.”

Kmart did not respond to calls for comment about its plans for Joe Boxer.

Graham has been working on the Nick(it) label for J.C. Penney, a collection of British-inspired sportswear for young men. He sold Joe Boxer after encountering a financial squeeze that arose from a bitter lawsuit with Van Mar, a former licensee.

Van Mar won a $3.15 million judgment against Boxer in December 2000. The underwear firm found itself unable to pay the judgment because of its lackluster financial condition stemming partly from Graham’s penchant for costly media events that drained the company’s cash flow.
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