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Clothier Seeks to Cash In on Rodeo Drive's Cachet

November 19, 1998|KEN WOO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Gucci? Forget it. Valentino? Not even close. If a veteran clothing manufacturer has his way, a line of children's clothes won't carry the label of an upscale boutique on Rodeo Drive, but rather the name of the street itself.

Sidney Fell, owner of CAP GuyNGal, a local children's-wear manufacturer, is trying to license the rights to the name "Rodeo Drive" for use on clothing for kids to preteens.

"I wanted to create a product that met the high standards of Rodeo Drive and met today's trends," said Fell, also president of Rodeo Drive Beverly Hills Licensing.

Fell, 84, is hoping to capitalize on the name that locals and tourists alike can instantly relate to as elegant and prestigious.

He tried to market the name in 1995 but was taken to court for trademark infringement by the Rodeo Drive Committee, an association of merchants on the upscale street. As part of an out-of-court settlement, Fell was awarded the licensing rights to the name royalty-free, but only for use on non-adult apparel.

Fell said his latest attempt at licensing the famous name has the support and consent of the merchants on Rodeo. But the Rodeo Drive Committee does not agree.

"Saying that he has our support is a bit of an overstatement," said Norman Zafman, an attorney and spokesman for the Rodeo Drive Committee. "We're not supporting his licensing efforts. Our primary interest is that he abides by the agreement."

"Buick has a car named 5th Avenue and Chrysler has a car called Park Avenue," Fell said. "I don't see people on those streets complaining."

The logo features the street name in gold letters on a black background.

Fell said that he hopes the tony-sounding label will end up in department stores such as Bloomingdale's and Macy's.

Fell, a 50-year-veteran of the clothing business, credits his wife with the idea for the licensing venture.

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