Indian sightholder KGK has received the license to sell and manufacture Judith Ripka jewelry as a wholesale line, according to Xcel Brands, which bought the brand for $22 million in April.
Xcel will still handle most of the consumer-facing aspects of the operation, including the Judith Ripka brand that is sold on QVC, the two Ripka retail stores, its e-commerce operation, and the brand’s marketing. KGK will manufacture the product and sell and service its wholesale retail accounts, including department stores and retail jewelers.
Most of the employees from the current Ripka operation—which, up until now, was the wholesale licensee—will join KGK, Xcel Brands chairman and CEO Robert D’Loren tells JCK.
Ripka will still be the brand’s primary designer, serving as chief creative officer for the brand that bears her name, and will work for Xcel.
D’Loren notes that while this kind of split is still relatively unusual in the fine jewelry business, it’s common for the fashion business and costume jewelry.
“We are leveraging all our strengths,” he says. “Xcel’s strength is in marketing. Judith’s strength is in design. KGK are brilliant manufacturers.”