Owings Mills clothing maker lands contract to make Dior suits, coats

March 05, 1992|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

J. Schoeneman Inc., an Owings Mills-based men's clothing maker, has landed an exclusive license to manufacture and distribute Christian Dior suits, sports coats, trousers and rainwear in the United States.

James Stankovic, Schoeneman's president, said yesterday that the agreement could bring about $25 million in new sales to the company, which now has annual sales of about $100 million.

Schoeneman, a privately held company that has been based in Baltimore for 103 years, has its distribution center in Owings Mills, its manufacturing plant in Chambersburg, Pa., and its cutting operations in Wilmington, Del.

The new license could add 250 jobs to the company's work force of 1,600 to 1,700, Mr. Stankovic said. Most of the new jobs would be in Chambersburg, he said, but a few positions would be added at the Owings Mills center, which has more than 200 workers.

Mr. Stankovic said the license with the famous French designer was the largest piece of new business ever to come to Schoeneman, which manufactures clothing under license from such designers as Burberry's, Bill Robinson and Halston. The company also makes private-label clothing for department and specialty stores.

The lucrative new license could be complicated, however, by a lawsuit filed in Illinois by the previous licensee, Chicago-based Hartmarx Corp., which has challenged Schoeneman's right to enter into the agreement. Hartmarx's general counsel, Carey Stein, said the lawsuit, which sought an injunction against Schoeneman, was filed in Cook County Circuit Court in February.

Hartmarx is the parent of Gleneagles Inc., which had produced Christian Dior raincoats at its plants in Towson and Bel Air. The company has told its 300 workers there that the plants will close by June. It is not clear whether there is a connection between the plant closings and the change in licensees.

The injunction request is pending, said Mr. Stein, who added that the lawsuit had been moved to federal court in Illinois at Schoeneman's request. Asked whether Hartmarx's license with Dior had expired, Mr. Stein replied, "Not in our view."

Michael Burke, executive vice president of Christian Dior, would not comment yesterday on the Hartmarx-Schoeneman litigation.

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