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Charisma, Fieldcrest on verge of comeback

Agreements to resume production and sales of Charisma and Fieldcrest might only be days away, with final negotiations in a very "late stage," according to Earthbound, the three-year-old licensing and brand management firm charged with their revitalization.

The firm is seeking a national presence for the labels and offered that exclusives are "something we're definitely looking at," said Jeffrey Cohen, co-chairman.

"Even though Fieldcrest and Charisma are both extremely well-known national brands, they've been out of the market for awhile," Cohen said. "So while consumers may not have forgotten, the retailers tend to fill the space pretty quickly. The challenge is to get back into the market as quickly as possible."

Cohen said he's been working directly with retailers and suppliers concurrently, although he indicated that meeting retailers' needs has been paramount and that supplier licensees would be selected based on that.He said Charisma would continue to be positioned as an upstairs brand and that Fieldcrest, traditionally a department store and mid-tier entry, would be aimed at a "broad range of retailers."

In other endeavors, Earthbound has represented Isaac Mizrahi with Target Stores, and has also represented XOXO and Lucy Perada, with dealings also at Sears and with Springs Industries.

"Everybody loves Fieldcrest," Cohen said. "Certainly it still is a very powerful brand and retailers at pretty much all levels are interested in it. It will be in a very prominent position … It will certainly be where it can continue to generate significant volume."

Earthbound entered the picture about two months ago, Cohen said, when owners GGST asked him to step in and assist Group 3 Design, which previously was attempting to market all four former Pillowtex brands on its own. Earthbound was given Charisma and Fieldcrest, and Group 3 retained Royal Velvet and Cannon.

Cohen was familiar with GGST through its ownership of the XOXO brand, he said. "I guess they didn't want all their eggs in one basket," he explained.

"I'm very confident about both of these brands," Cohen added. "We really believe they're going to come back strong in a relatively short period of time."

Earthbound has already begun putting separate Charisma and Fieldcrest support teams together, and that process will accelerate as the deals are signed and the programs are launched, according to Cohen.

Like its counterpart, Group 3, Earthbound will retain all marketing and management controls, ranging all the way down to product packaging, he said. That will form part of any contract signed.

While there's always some tension in the process, there's been no resistance to that since potential licensees recognize the need for consistency and a unified message for the product to be successful, he said.

The first step of any launch will be "telling the world that we're back and (the brands) have some very deep-pocketed owners and solid manufacturing involved in the process, then following that with national consumer advertising," said Cohen. "The first thing that will get retailers excited is to know that good partners are involved, and I think they'll really be happy with who eventually comes on board."

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