Karl Lagerfeld takes to Web to launch own brand "Karl"

Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:00pm EDT
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By Astrid Wendlandt and Pascale Denis

PARIS (Reuters) - Karl Lagerfeld, the creative force behind Chanel for nearly 30 years, is launching a fashion brand under his own name with backing from private equity firm Apax in a bid to tap into the Internet retail market.

The legendary designer in January will start selling online a 'rock chic' brand called Karl, with items priced in the 60 to 300 euro range.

The products will be sold exclusively for the first month through net-a-porter, the online fashion retail unit of Swiss luxury group Richemont, then on a dedicated website and starting in the spring through a few selected retailers.

The move provides further evidence the fashion world is embracing the Internet as an effective medium to sell clothes, communicate with customers and cultivate image.

Consultancy Bain & Co said in a report last week it expected online luxury sales to rise 25 percent in 2011, while the sector's sales globally are forecast to rise 13 percent at constant exchange rates.

Some fashion brands, particularly high-end ones such as Louis Vuitton, have long been reluctant to sell actively online, arguing that Web-based boutiques did not offer the same service and luxury atmosphere as bricks-and-mortar outlets.

Lagerfeld, 78, is also planning to launch in autumn 2012 a more upmarket label called "Karl Lagerfeld Paris," sold in multi-brand and department stores, with items priced between 300 and 2,000 euros.

The collections will be distributed and produced under license by Italy's Ittierre, which also holds licenses from Pierre Balmain, Galliano, Costume National and Gianfranco Ferre.   Continued...

<p>German designer Karl Lagerfeld appears at the end of his Spring/Summer 2012 women's ready-to-wear fashion show for French fashion house Chanel in Paris October 4, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier</p>