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Kahn Lucas suits up to expand licensing business

At 118 years old, New York-based apparel manufacturer Kahn Lucas has decided to put some spring in its step with an infusion of new licenses. In fact, the company's on a mission to double its licensed apparel revenues by 2009, and it's just tapped new VP of licensing Nicole Piper to lead the charge.
February 1, 2008

At 118 years old, New York-based apparel manufacturer Kahn Lucas has decided to put some spring in its step with an infusion of new licenses. In fact, the company’s on a mission to double its licensed apparel revenues by 2009, and it’s just tapped new VP of licensing Nicole Piper to lead the charge.

Piper now oversees KL’s entire licensing division – the company’s fastest-growing segment, with sales that shot up 50% between 2006 and 2007. The manufacturer focuses on girls’ dresses and, appropriately, is looking to land more girl-skewing properties ranging from infant to tween. However, to achieve the kind of sales volume it needs to meet its ambitious goals, Piper says KL won’t likely be signing deals on niche licenses. She’s looking to foster long-term relationships with IP owners whose properties can land spots at mass retail such as Nickelodeon and Disney.

Ideally, once KL takes on a license, it likes to meet simultaneously with the licensor and target retailer to tailor the product line. For example, says Piper, a cutting-edge retailer might want glitzier fabrics and more fashion-forward designs than a conservative one.

Piper is currently keeping an eye out for programs launching in spring 2009 and is keen to expand into sportswear and separates categories. Though KL super serves the girls market, Piper is also open to working with gender-neutral characters, like Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh.

To support Piper’s efforts, KL is staffing up with more designers, production managers and artists who’ll be sent far and wide to get a bead on apparel trends in other parts of the globe. The company is also greening up, entertaining uses for recycled fabrics and more environmentally friendly, low-impact dyes in its creations.

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