Manolo Blahnik Talks About New Strategy for U.S. Biz After Partnership With George Malkemus Ends

Manolo Blahnik International is taking a new direction with its U.S. business.

A day after the designer’s longtime U.S. partner George Malkemus decided not to renew his licensing agreement with the parent company, Blahnik revealed plans to take over stateside operations beginning Jan. 1.

“The USA and Canada are a core part of our business which we are fully committed to. These are very exciting times for Manolo Blahnik,” said CEO Kristina Blahnik. “We thank George and Tony for their success in building the North American foundations, and we look forward to announcing plans for significant growth and investment.”

In the weeks ahead, the company said it will announce plans for significant strategic investment in North American operations, talent and infrastructure.

For his part, the legendary founder and designer said he was eager to begin the next chapter. “George and Tony have been very good friends for decades. We have shared a great deal over the years, and on behalf of the Blahnik family, I wish them well for the future. Change can be hugely beneficial, and this heralds a promising new era for our company.”

In a press statement on Monday, Malkemus announced his plans not to move forward with Blahnik — ending a 37-year relationship.

The press statement said that when it came time to renew the pair’s licensing deal, Kristina Blahnik, along with her in-house counsel, offered unacceptable terms.

The designer and Malkemus, who speak by phone almost every day, built one of the most successful, familial and long-lasting designer-executive relationships. They grew Blahnik into a household name that played a starring role in “Sex and the City” and occupies prime spots in every major department store.

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