Karl Lagerfeld, who stopped showing his signature collection in September 2010 and has subsequently spread his talents across almost every branding medium possible, announced the launch of two women's collections under his very own label on January 25. The lower-priced masstige line, called "Karl," will range between 60 and 300 euros (about $85 to $415), while the higher-priced collection, "Karl Lagerfeld Paris," will be 300 to 2,500 euros (about $415 to $3,465).
The fashion house was previously owned by Tommy Hilfiger, but as of last year is fully controlled by private-equity firm Apax Partners (Apax formerly owned Hilfiger as well, but sold it and kept Lagerfeld last year). This past August, Lagerfeld got a new president, Pier Paolo Righi, who joined the company from Hilfiger and has helped spearhead the launch of Lagerfeld's new collections.
The Karl line, which Righi describes to WWD as "street" and "rock" and features silvery jeans, detachable collars, fingerless gloves, and backless dresses, will be produced in-house (with no licensing partners) and be sold mostly online. The web-based sales model is emphasized by its exclusive partnership with Net-a-Porter, who will launch the 100-piece line on January 25 and be its only distributor until it becomes available on karllagerfeld.com on February 28.
Meanwhile, the higher-priced Paris collection will be shown on January 25 but not available until later in the year. Unlike the Karl line, it'll be produced and distributed by Italy's Itteirre SpA and sold in retail stores worldwide. Righi says they're targeting Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Russia; in the U.S., he says, "we will go to some select retailers in the key fashion cities." Both new collections will eventually be sold in pop-up shops and permanent, stand-alone Karl Lagerfeld boutiques, which are slated to start opening in late 2012.
Of his new collections, Lagerfeld tells WWD:
"I just want not too expensive clothes that people may like and perhaps want to wear,” he said. “That was my concept for a long time, but my business partners in the past wanted to be like Chanel or Fendi without putting behind what is needed to be like that ... It was only when Apax sold Hilfiger that they started to look at Lagerfeld with other eyes and started to invest, etc.,” he continued. “Now I am feeling we are ready for the right job — the way to do things right in a modern, unusual way.”
Meanwhile, as the new collections get under way, Lagerfeld will scale back on his collaborations with retailers like Macy's, H&M, Diet Coke, and Magnum, to name just a few.