Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 362, November 1999

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American Companies in Japan


Women's career clothing and sportswear designer LIZ CLAIBORNE INC. licensed manufacturing and marketing rights to its new Emma James brand to JUSCO CO., LTD. This line of dresses, jackets, skirts and blouses for working women costs about half what comparable Liz Claiborne clothing does. Jusco — the majority owner of the company that is opening freestanding and in-store Liz Claiborne and Dana Buchman shops in Japan — will modify the Emma Jones collection of 200 to 250 pieces for Japanese women. The clothing should be available at 20 stores by yearend 1999, including in-store shops in four Jusco outlets in Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures. By 2001, Jusco expects 120 stores to be carrying the Emma Jones line and generating sales of $53.8 million.

By February 2000, a new line of Japanese-designed B.V.D.-brand T-shirts, sweat suits, dresses and other "innerwear" clothing will be in specialty stores across Japan. FUJI SPINNING CO., LTD., the master licensee of the B.V.D. name for the last 27 years, arranged this expansion of its business with UNION UNDERWEAR CO., INC. of Bowling Green, Kentucky. FUJI APPAREL CO., LTD. will make the products. They will be distributed by an affiliate of WORLD CO., LTD., a manufacturer of women's wear that supplies some 7,000 outlets.

ASHWORTH, INC., a Carlsbad, California designer of upscale men's and women's golf-inspired sportswear, has decided to work with KOSUGI SANGYO CO., LTD. to bring its clothing to Japan. The Tokyo apparel maker/wholesaler, which already produces such sportswear brands as Jantzen and Jack Nicklaus, will import some products from Ashworth and manufacture other licensed items designed specifically for the Japanese market. Kosugi Sangyo will distribute these lines to better golf specialty and other stores beginning in the spring of 2000.

The Rusty and the R. lines of surfing-motif T-shirts, trunks and other activewear for men and women will be introduced in Japan in the spring of 2000. Irvine, California-based C&C PARTNERS, LTD., the master licensee of these labels, sublicensed the brands to trader SUMITOMO CORP., which turned around and worked out a deal with NIKKI CO., LTD. The Japanese side is projecting first-year sales at a very strong $5.7 million.

The Eden Prairie, Minnesota firm that is reintroducing the Norton brand of merchandise, named after the famous British motorcycle, has signed an agreement with INGRAM CO., LTD. Under it, the Japanese licensing company will act as an agent for NORTON MOTORCYCLES, INC., licensing various manufacturers to make clothing, including leather jackets and T-shirts, and such related products as gloves, boots and helmets under the Norton name for the Japanese market. Norton Motorcycles will maintain complete design and quality control over the licensed products.

Japan has been a major market for footwear manufacturer WOLVERINE WORLD WIDE, INC. since 1965 when Hush Puppies shoes were introduced there. The Rockford, Michigan firm's line now also includes Wolverine boots and shoes, Coleman footgear, Caterpillar footwear and Merrell outdoor footwear. Next to be added are 15 styles of Harley-Davidson boots and shoes for men, women and children. Wolverine World Wide gave exclusive distribution rights to these products to INTERNATIONAL TRADING CORP. under a five-year deal. The Harley-Davidson footwear, which will retail for $70 to $250, will be available through the motorcycle manufacturer's 100-plus dealerships, the 31 ABC-Mart stores owned and operated by International Trading and independent retailers.

Despite prices of $285 to $375 a pair, the Red Wing and the Irish Setter brands of outdoor footwear have been hits among young adults in Japan. In an attempt to broaden its market among these buyers, RED WING SHOE CO. of Red Wing, Minnesota introduced its less-expensive WORX line through MIDORI INTERNATIONAL CO., LTD. Eight ankle-high, midhigh and high styles of shoes and boots are available. The WORX line retails for $120 to $150 a pair.

An exchange rate of ¥106=$1.00 was used in this report. aaaaaa

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