Who knew that such a soggy weekend would have such an effect on the fashion and retail scene?
Over the weekend two significant rag trade deals happened. One, which will be likely to garner the most headlines, was that the Tommy Hilfiger brand was sold to PVH, the parent company of, among other things, Calvin Klein, for about $3 billion. Former owner Apax Partners successfully rejuvenated the label by entering into an exclusive distribution deal with Macy's and expanding its network of freestanding stores. Unofficially hiring Peter Som as a "consultant" couldn't have hurt either, resulting last month in one of the first Hilfiger runway shows to actually make people sit up and take notice. This deal has been long rumored, and we don't expect much to change since the company's principals, including its namesake designer, will remain in position. The deal does, however, pit the jewel in PVH's crown, the Calvin Klein brand, against newly adopted sibling Hilfiger in several categories including underwear and moderate sportswear. It'll be interesting to see how the kids get along. We also are not yet sure what this deal will mean for the Karl Lagerfeld trademarks which Hilfiger has owned since 2005.
In other deals, embattled UK sportswear giant French Connection has sold the Nicole Farhi designer brand to California private equity firm OpenGate Capital for $7.6 million. Farhi was once romantically involved with FC founder Stephen Marks, with whom she shares a daughter, but is now married to British writer and director David Hare (making her Lady Hare). One presumes (and hopes) that the deal includes the very popular 202 Nicole Farhi restaurant/boutique on Ninth Avenue in the Chelsea Market, however French Connection also announced that it would be drastically reducing its U.S. retail store count from 23 down to 6. If any of its three New York stores survive, we would be putting our money on the longtime West Broadway flagship in SoHo. The Roosevelt Field unit may be getting the ax, and the NoHo shop would look to be on the bubble. Of course, they could all remain open or be closed, but as French Connection has made a transition over the years to a more expensive contemporary brand, SoHo with all its traffic would look like the best spot to keep open.
PVH Acquires Tommy Hilfiger, French Connection Sells Nicole Farhi, Announces Store Closures (WWD)