Skechers Inks Apparel Deal with Li & Fung

LOS ANGELES — Skechers USA Inc. is getting some serious sourcing help for the launch of its upcoming fitness apparel line.

The Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based company will announce today that it has signed a multiyear deal with LF USA.

Skechers and LF USA, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Li & Fung Ltd., will produce fitness apparel and accessories for men and women under the Skechers Shapeups, Tone-ups and Resistance sub-brands, which fall under the newly created Skechers Fitness Group. The product assortment will include activewear, outerwear and performance-related accessories.

“We’ve been talking [to Li & Fung] for some time and we’re very excited to move into the apparel area,” said Skechers President Michael Greenberg. “We couldn’t have asked for a better partner. They are the world’s largest sourcing company, which is exciting. With the popularity of Shape-ups and Tone-ups and our Resistance lines, we felt the timing was right to enter the apparel arena.”

Greenberg said that while the company has dabbled in apparel and T-shirts sold exclusively in its retail stores, this is its first foray into a wholesale apparel business.

The collection is expected to debut in mid-2012 and will be sold in department stores, specialty athletic shops and big-box athletic chains, as well as with independent retailers.

Greenberg declined to offer a sales projection for the apparel collection, though he said demand already appears high.

“There is a want and a desire and a pent-up demand for Skechers to be in apparel,” he said. “[Consumers have] been asking for it. Just as our shoes touch the hearts and minds of consumers everywhere, and they’ve enjoyed wearing our footwear, we believe we’re going to offer the consumers a fabulous brand extension.”

For his part, LF USA President Rick Darling said in a statement he anticipates potential for the collection.

“We see tremendous opportunity to build the brand’s solid foundation as we bring consumers a new, differentiated performance apparel collection,” he said.

Last month, Skechers announced it had formed the Skechers Fitness Group sales force to support the company’s growing emphasis on athletic footwear.

The firm now divides its sales organization into two distinct groups: one that focuses on athletic product, and the other that dedicates its efforts to the company’s lifestyle footwear offering.

Gary Stern, former VP of sales for men’s sport, has been named as VP of sales of Skechers Fitness Group. The division is headed by President Leonard Armato.

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