P. Diddy’s Latest Act: Sean John, Zac Posen To Form Joint Venture

Sean John Clothing and Zac Posen are expected to announce they are forming a joint venture to become equal partners in Posen’s business.

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Raised in New York and the son of artist parents, Posen has developed a following among the city’s society set, first luring high school classmates Stella Schnabel and Paz de la Huerta as his muses and eventually becoming a regular stop on the catwalk circuit for Claire Danes, Natalie Portman and Lauren and Barbara Bush, plus the gregarious Combs, who has mixed the soundtrack to some of Posen’s shows.

The two designers have become friendly, but had previously denied they were in talks about a business deal. Posen’s office did not return calls on Monday, while officials at outside agencies representing the designers both declined to comment.

Although Combs has insinuated he would like to someday build a fashion empire, he has thus far concentrated on his own brand. Sean John already generates some $325 million in retail sales through its various product categories and is on target for rapid growth in the coming years with the rollout of freestanding stores.

In addition to its plans to open a Fifth Avenue store across from the New York Public Library this summer, Sean John last month signed leases for 3,500-square-foot stores at Beverly Center in Los Angeles and the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., and other deals are pending for locations in Las Vegas, Houston, Hawaii and San Francisco.

Its strategy is to open similarly sized stores in high-profile, A-list shopping centers and downtown shopping districts. Ultimately, there could be 200 to 300 Sean John stores, company executives have said.

The brand’s potential in the women’s wear market remains largely untapped with the exception of a few samples created for the runway, with Combs repeatedly promising he’ll be debuting a full sister collection to his men’s wear soon. He last projected that an exclusive launch of limited-edition women’s wear would take place this summer.

“I’m trying to figure out the right retail strategy,” Combs said in an interview last year. “I don’t want to just roll it out. There are some things about the women’s business I’m still trying to figure out. I have the design and the infrastructure, but I’m still compiling the exact campaigns, marketing and sales plan.”
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