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Crow Seeks Right Note for Denim

With a new album out Tuesday and her first apparel line slated to hit the sales floor in late June, 2008 promises to be a busy year for Sheryl Crow.

NEW YORK — With a new album out Tuesday and her first apparel line slated to hit the sales floor in late June, 2008 promises to be a busy year for Sheryl Crow.

As first reported in WWD on Oct. 10, the nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer signed a manufacturing deal with Western Glove Works to develop and distribute a denim-based collection dubbed Bootheel Trading Co. by Sheryl Crow. The new line will be the second celebrity-backed denim collection for Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Western Glove Works, which owns the Silver Jeans and 1921 labels, and manufactures Victoria Beckham’s DVB Denim collection.

Crow has had a long relationship with the fashion industry, most recently serving as the face of Revlon Colorist. She’s also a front-row fixture at the fashion shows of designers such as Marc Jacobs and Valentino. Despite her apparent enthusiasm for the highest ends of the fashion spectrum, Crow said that when it came time to do her own line she wanted it to reflect her personality and be accessible to a wider audience. Denim was a natural and obvious entry point.

“Denim is a product that represents me from my earliest beginnings,” said Crow. “I’ve always been kind of a jeans girl.”

This turns out to be an understatement. Denim was a daily uniform for Crow growing up in Missouri’s boot heel, an agricultural region in the southeast corner of the state from which the brand gets its name and inspiration.

“It’s well known for cotton farming and God-fearing, good people with a good work ethic,” said Crow. “For me it has a lot of meaning.”

That heritage has carried over into her career as an entertainer, and denim remains a wardrobe staple. Today, she has more denim in her closet than she can count and a vintage jeans collection that includes classic Levi’s styles and Landlubber jeans from the Seventies.

Michael Silver, a partner in Western Glove and the founder of the Silver Jeans and 1921 labels, said Crow’s background and knowledge of denim made it easy to find common ground when they met last summer for lunch in Chicago to have preliminary discussions.

“We were all on the same wavelength and it all made sense,” said Silver. “It’s Americana. It’s what she’s about and denim was synonymous with her way of life. She lives in it and performs in it.”

Western Glove’s design director flew out to Los Angeles to comb through Crow’s closets and her denim collection, and worked with Crow’s stylist to develop the looks for the label. The initial collection will consist of 15 bottoms, retailing for between $58 and $62, and a dozen tops, retailing for between $24 and $35. Like Crow’s songs, the label’s design is supposed to reflect a mix of Western, folk and Americana elements. Silver anticipates distributing the line in department stores, and hopes to launch with a retailer that he can work closely with on in-store appearances and integration of Crow’s career into the marketing of the product.

“I really think she wanted to go to her fans,” said Silver. “She has fans that are shopping premium and those shopping at Wal-Mart. I think she wanted to make sure we were accessible to all.”

Western Glove has hired denim veteran Steven Greenfield as vice president of U.S. sales for the label, and will spearhead the launch for fall. Greenfield began his career with Earl Jean, launched his own Salt Works Jeans label in 2004 and has worked in sales for AG Adriano Goldschmeid.

Crow acknowledges she has been “lucky” to be able to plunk down $300 for a pair of jeans. That said, she’s as equally aware that her sisters and friends in Missouri aren’t going to do the same.

“There are a lot of young women out there who are hip and live in small towns and can’t lay down $200 for a pair of jeans,” said Crow.

As the promotion circuit for her album begins to amp up, Crow said she’s looking forward to clothing herself in her own line. Bootheel may be launching with bottoms and tops, but Crow sees expanding into other areas such as boots and handbags.

“I want to be able to provide a cool look for anybody, but particularly for those gals out there that have a fashion sense and want to feel good but can’t afford to buy the really high-end stuff,” said Crow.