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Steve Madden Acquires Brian Atwood

The acquisition gives Steve Madden a stake in the luxury market for the first time.
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Steve Madden has acquired fellow shoemaker Brian Atwood from owner The Jones Group, according to WWD. The deal is expected to be announced later today.

It's been no secret that The Jones Group -- which is being taken over by private equity firm Sycamore Partners -- has been looking to offload its underperforming brands, including Atwood, whose flagship store in Manhattan was closed a few weeks ago. As part of its cost-cutting efforts, Jones announced earlier this month that it's discontinuing Rachel Roy's designer line.

According to WWD, Atwood invoked the buyback option in his contract (i.e. the ability to buy back his own company before it could be sold off) when it became apparent that Jones would be selling, although it hadn't begun negotiations with Sycamore yet. Atwood first signed with Jones in 2010, for the launch of his contemporary line, B by Brian Atwood.

Representatives from Brian Atwood, Jones and Steve Madden did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Expansion is a big part of the plan for Brian Atwood right off the bat. As the designer told WWD, handbags, apparel and a men's collection are not outside the realm of possibility.

This is also a key moment for Steve Madden's market reach. The company already has a lockdown on lower-price footwear, but the addition of Brian Atwood gives it a stake in the luxury space for the first time.

As for that Madison Ave boutique closing, it shuttered because it is a Jones Group property. Now that Brian Atwood is operating under the Steve Madden umbrella, it is looking into new locations for its flagship store.

Update: Atwood's team has confirmed the sale, although the terms of which were not disclosed. Brian Atwood will have transitioned over to Steve Madden in time for Spring 2015 deliveries.