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Fashion in Hong Kong and China

Watch out Victoria! David Beckham to design fashion line with Hong Kong-owned label Kent & Curwen

Ex-soccer star's five-year deal with Trinity Group brand means there'll be two fashion designers in the Beckham household

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 September, 2015, 4:12pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 September, 2015, 12:40pm

Soccer and fashion icon David Beckham is to design a collection for Hong Kong-owned label Kent & Curwen.

Under a newly signed five-year partnership deal, Beckham - whose wife, Victoria, is an acclaimed womenswear designer - will oversee design of his collaborative line, help market the collections, and involve himself in its branding and positioning and the design of Kent & Curwen stores. The preppy British heritage label plans to open 20 stores worldwide, and remodel its stores in China, over the next three to five years.

The deal appears aimed at attracting a younger clientele to Kent & Curwen, most of whose current customers are 45 and over.

WATCH David Beckham advert for Kent & Curwen

Richard Cohen, chief executive of Hong Kong-listed Trinity Limited, which signed the Beckham deal with the Global Brands Group headed by Bruce Rockowitz, said on Wednesday it was a "real partnership" as opposed to Beckham being just a paid ambassador or face of Kent & Curwen. "He will sit with me and the executive team to be involved in the future global strategy of Kent & Curwen."

The label has previously had Hong Kong actor-singer Aaron Kwok Fu-shing as an ambassador, and another ex-British soccer star, Michael Owen, starring in its advertising campaigns. Cohen said those were "all positive things at that time, but the strategy now is much more of a fashion point of view". 

Read more: Heritage rules: Kent & Curwen and its Hong Kong connection

"I've been working on it for about nine months," he said of the Beckham deal.  "We always perceived that it would be great for Kent & Curwen to have a serious kick globally, especially in China. When I found out that David was associated with Bruce (Rockowitz) and that whole team at Global Brands Group, I basically said this is what I want and let's get it done...We are an English sports brand so associating ourselves with THE fashion icon of sports is exactly what we want to do." 

Trinity Limited is a listed member of the unlisted Fung Group of companies, while Global Brands Group was spun off from sourcing giant Li & Fung to hold its consumer brands.

Trinity has built up a small but powerful stable of notable men's heritage brands, from Gieves & Hawkes to Italian label Cerruti 1881, but this celebrity partnership will be the group's most high-profile to date. Landing Beckham, with his star power and reported net worth of US$350 million, is a huge coup for the brand, founded in 1926.

Trinity quoted Beckham as saying: "What I love is that Kent & Curwen has pedigree ... passed through generations of Britain's most celebrated style icons, from Laurence Olivier to Michael Caine and Mick Jagger ... Our aim is to build on its existing success in China ... and establish it as a powerful brand globally."

Asked how hard it was to convince the already wealthy Beckham to sign on, Cohen said once everyone involved got "comfortable" with what the brand is today, its clientele and vision for the future, "it was relatively smooth sailing".

Read more: Victoria Beckham extends her range with prints and new silhouettes

Kent & Curwen's major market is China, including Hong Kong. But with Beckham's global appeal, Cohen predicts business will grow in North America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

Wherever the Chinese consumer is travelling, I want to get hold of them
Richard Cohen

"Wherever the Chinese consumer is travelling, I want to get hold of them," he said.

The Beckham collection, which will be in stores next autumn, will be aimed at younger customers, especially those in their 30s, whereas the brand's main consumer base is currently in the 45 and over age bracket. Signing up Beckham is no doubt aimed at winning over high-spending, fashion-forward men who previously found the label too conservative.  

The deal is essentially a power huddle between Trinity, Global Brands Group (where Rockowitz is chief executive and vice-chairman) and Seven Global (a joint venture between Global Brands, David Beckham and Simon Fuller). It is a sign that brand Beckham is not stopping at fashion, and will certainly expand into other lifestyle sectors. Rockowitz said: "This is just the beginning of our plans to extend the David Beckham brand, synonymous with sports, style and star power - and expanding them globally."

In December 2014 Beckham signed a worldwide licensing joint venture with Global Brands Group to create a lifestyle brand. At the time, Rockowitz called the deal, covering everything from fashion and children's wear to food and electronics,  "a game-changer in sports and entertainment”.