Heading to Marc III: Jacobs Eyes Better Sportswear Collection

Marc Jacobs wants to bring his hipness to the masses and is in talks to produce a better-priced line, lower priced than even Marc by Marc Jacobs.

“Still, I have always wanted to become this big player in the world of fashion for young people and I’ve always wanted to have a broader distribution. I want to be everywhere and I’m not going to be doing that with the [two] collections we have. I want this to be more accessible to more people and to sell all over the country —all over the world, and not just in urban centers.”

What this better-priced Marc Jacobs line might be called remains to be answered and Duffy said their team is playing with a lot of names. “I have a bunch of different names, but nothing has been finalized,” he said.

Marc Jacobs is partially backed by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Duffy pointed out that chairman Bernard Arnault is aware of this business prospect — and is supportive.

“I know this is something that Mr. Arnault supports, too. I talked to him yesterday and he knows this is something I want to do and he likes the idea,” Duffy said Friday. “He’s a smart man, and he knows the future of this business and every single product or company he controls all have a different heritage. But he loves the idea. If you’re successful and he sees that you have a track record, he’ll be supportive.”

A better-priced Marc Jacobs line would place the designer, whose collection is coveted by celebrities and artists like Sofia Coppola, Winona Ryder and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, in a league with other big-name designers who have also reached out to the masses — namely Ralph Lauren with his licensed sportswear line Lauren by Ralph Lauren, produced under license by Jones Apparel Group; Donna Karan with City DKNY, a licensed division of Liz Claiborne Inc.; and potentially Calvin Klein, whose business was sold in December to Phillips-Van Heusen Corp.

As reported, PVH said it plans to launch a better-priced women’s collection under the CK Calvin Klein label in 2004. A new men’s better sportswear business is currently being developed in-house by PVH, while the women’s business will most likely be licensed.

Based on the volume of some of these businesses — the Lauren line did $548 million in net sales last year and $1 billion was what Bruce Klatsky, chairman and chief executive officer of Phillips-Van Heusen, projected as the combined potential for the new men’s and women’s Calvin Klein businesses — it seems likely that this latest Marc Jacobs venture would compete on a similar playing field.
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