Jones, Atwood Deal Cheered

NEW YORK — Key footwear retailers lauded Brian Atwood’s union with Jones Apparel Group Inc., announced last week.

Storeowners said the designer’s new line with Jones, called B Brian Atwood, will help him reach a larger audience, while Jones will benefit from adding a powerful name to its portfolio.

“We’ve been carrying [Brian] since the beginning and we’re excited for him and his deal,” said Jeffrey Kalinsky, founder of Jeffrey New York and Atlanta. “Jones has been putting a lot of energy behind its growth plans.”

Bridget Assil, co-owner of the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Madison boutique, said B Brian Atwood’s accessible price point (styles are expected to range from $200 to $500) will be attractive to consumers, especially in a down economy.

“There has always been a gap in the market for that price point, so it’s a good deal for Brian because it allows him to be able to grow and improve his business,” Assil said.

At Hu’s Shoes in Washington, D.C., co-owner Marlene Hu Aldaba said Atwood’s namesake line has had a strong following since she first started carrying it in 2005. “He’s a household name now,” she said.

As for the new line, Aldaba is waiting to see the styles before making any decisions.

“Our customers really identify with the main line, but it all comes down to whether [the new product] looks good,” she said.

For his part, Atwood said he is excited to begin developing the new project. “It was something that we had to keep a secret, but finally [the news] is out and now we can get working,” said Atwood. “The response from people [who are] so excited to see what is going to come of this is really overwhelming … in a good way.”

Atwood is part of Jones’ larger effort to recruit top design to its roster. And Richard Dickson, president and CEO of branded businesses at the company, said the firm would continue to introduce additional talent on the footwear side.

“Brian is [now] a fixture here, and he’s a new talent that we believe will complement our growth strategy,” said Dickson. “We’re excited about the shoe business and we think there is a lot of room for growth and design talent.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Atwood deal marks the second major footwear expansion initiative at Jones this year. As reported earlier, the company acquired a majority stake in Stuart Weitzman in May.

Jones also is eyeing expansion in the handbag business. Last week the firm named Henri Bendel exec Dina Battipaglia as group president and designer Rafe Totengco as creative director.

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