Designer Brands to License Le Tigre Apparel Brand As It Aims to Double Owned-Brand Sales by 2026

Designer Brands Inc. is making progress with its plan to lean into private and owned brands to drive growth.

The DSW parent company today announced an investment in Le Tigre 360 Global, an American apparel brand known for its classic polo shirt. Via the investment, DBI has also entered licensing agreement to exclusively design and produce Le Tigre footwear that will be sold through DSW and The Shoe Company sales channels and through some wholesale accounts.

The announcement comes after DBI announced in April a goal for sales from owned brands and Camuto national owned and licensed brands to double from 19% of the company’s revenue to almost one-third by 2026. In 2018, DBI acquired Camuto Group, which designs and develops the Vince Camuto brand and licenses footwear for Jessica Simpson and Lucky Brand.

DBI’s current portfolio of brands with licensing deals also includes Reebok, Hush Puppies, Crown Vintage, JLO Jennifer Lopez, Mix No. 6 and Kelly & Katie.

“Le Tigre has been a loved American apparel brand since 1977,” said DBI president Bill Jordan in a statement. “Its unique style is the perfect addition to our growing portfolio of owned brands that customers have come to expect. We are excited to have yet another way to inspire self-expression.”

Infinity Brands and Hilco Inc. have owned and managed the Le Tigre in a joint venture since 2017, when it acquired the brand from Kenneth Cole.

“Le TIGRE 360 Global is thrilled about the strategic partnership with Designer Brands Inc.,” said Infinity Brands CEO Ike S. Franco. “As a leader in footwear, they will undoubtedly bring inspiring and unique designs to the marketplace, producing and delivering the highest quality products and engaging a large multi-generational audience that will expand the brand’s footprint significantly. This will truly disrupt the footwear marketplace.”

Leaning into private brands has already driven growth for DBI. In June, the footwear retailer reported that revenue in its owned brands category was up 68% in Q1 compared to the same quarter in 2021, and represented about 25% of overall sales for the company. These results were on top of last year’s 40% growth in owned brands compared to 2020. Owned brand revenues were up 78% in wholesale channels and up 64% in DTC channels.

Overall, the footwear retailer beat sales and earnings expectations in Q1 with a net income of $26.2 million, or diluted earnings per share of $0.34. Net sales increased 18.1% to $830.5 million.

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