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The Deal: Searching for the Next Michael Kors at Fashion Week

Cathy Leonhardt, a managing director at investment bank Peter J. Solomon Co., cautioned that while brands can come out of nowhere and become really big, really quickly, generating high margins, risk is involved.

Michael Kors can make it look easy. But that success grew out of a combination of solid planning, good timing, the right investors behind the brand, the best executives running the show and trusted sourcing or manufacturing partners that put products in stores on time. Only then did the brand earn the support of magazine editors and retail buyers.

So what brands are fashion experts watching? According to Singer, the Diane von Furstenberg Studio LP label, helmed by designer Diane von Furstenberg, with its version of the European jet set, has the most promise as a potential next Michael Kors.

There is also a lot of buzz around future IPO candidates, including Tory Burch LLC, with its version of downtown preppy and its own strong accessories businesses, and Marc Jacobs International LLC, majority owned by LVMH.

LVMH said recently that the designer Marc Jacobs would leave his creative role at luxury goods unit Louis Vuitton to focus on his namesake brand. It plans to take Marc Jacobs International public within the next three years.

Singer said Moncler SpA, a category killer in luxury outerwear, is worth watching as it prepares to go public in Milan over the next several months. The company is backed by private equity firms Eurazeo SA and Carlyle Group.

Publicly listed Fifth & Pacific Cos. (FNP), parent to Kate Spade, Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand, plans to sell Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand to focus on Kate Spade accessories. Investors hope that it will become the next Coach Inc. (COH - Get Report), another accessories success story with a market cap over $15 billion.

Industry sources said that once Fifth & Pacific jettisons two brands and becomes Kate Spade, it will be a prime target for both strategics and private equity. The bet is that Kate Spade will get acquired for a healthy premium.

One brand among the newer arrivals at fashion week with a legitimate shot at becoming a future powerhouse accessories company is Rebecca Minkoff LLC, which is backed by private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners LLC.
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