Jones Apparel Group Inc has formed a joint venture to market and license the New York-based Rachel Roy fashion brand, in a move that gives it a new entry point into the luxury market.

Under the terms of the deal, Jones owns 50% of the joint venture, with the remaining stake owned by the two founders, Rachel Roy and Damon Dash, and TSM Capital which acquired a minority stake in the business last November.

Jones will operate the existing designer collection business under license with the new joint venture.

Rachel Roy launched her women's wear label in spring 2005 and sells it in premier luxury department and select specialty stores in the US, UK, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, South Korea, Canada, Turkey and Indonesia.

Wesley R Card, Jones Apparel Group president and chief executive officer, described Rachel Roy as "a gifted design talent and represents the new wave of modern fashion."

He added the company plans to invest in the designer business "and explore opportunities to broaden her reach to a larger audience" both domestically and internationally.

Rachel Roy and her team will work with Susan Metzger, chief executive officer of the Women's Wholesale Sportswear division. Ms Metzger will be responsible for the operations of the business.

The joint venture partners say they plan to develop the brand through global expansion of the wholesale business, introduction of new product categories, and stand-alone retail stores in key US and international locations.

Rachel Roy will continue to lead the design, manufacturing and production.

Jones Apparel also owns brands such as Jones New York, Nine West, Anne Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, Kasper, Bandolino, and l.e.i.