By  on December 20, 2007

NEW YORK — True Religion Apparel is coming to Time Warner Center's Shops at Columbus Circle. The premium denim brand has signed a lease for an 1,850-square-foot store that is to open in the spring. The unit will be True Religion's second in Manhattan. The company also operates a unit in SoHo and intends to open a store on the Upper East Side in the spring.The Shops unit represents an important element in True Religion's growth strategy. Michael Buckley, president of True Religion, said in November that management had a list of 110 potential locations for full-price stores and another 20 markets for possible outlet units. "True Religion continues to build our best of class retail [mandate]" said Webber Hudson, executive vice president of Related Urban Development, which owns the Shops at Columbus Circle. "It's fashion-forward denim and clothing. We're underassorted in high-end brands. It's an area where our customer is underserved."Hudson said the Shops will cultivate new luxury tenants in early 2008. Wolford and Swarovski have already opened. "Between mid-summer and September I'll have three or four more names to add that will build even higher and go deeper into luxury," he said. The True Religion store will offer the entire collection for men, women and children, including signature denim, an expanded sportswear collection and a full range of licensed products, including footwear, swimwear, headwear and handbags, the company said. The brand has a higher fashion quotient than some other denim lines. Founded in 2002, Los Angeles-based True Religion is known for its innovative washes and detailing, including fashion-forward seaming, elaborate embroidery and hand-sanded vintage washes. The Billy Heritage Select Big T low-rise straight leg stretch jeans have the signature Fox C thread combination with large gold buttons sewn around the waistline and a removable leather strap that connects two buttons and sells for $262. Tall Italian suede lace-up boots with heavy stitching and goodyear weld bottoms are $475, and a washed leather motorcycle jacket with real hardware and lined with velvet trim is $588.The lease gives the Shops 100 percent occupancy. Asked where the center will find the space to accommodate new luxury tenants, Hudson said he would "let a struggling retailer out of an unpleasant situation. The only challenge is that when you have average productivity of $1,600 a square foot, I'm not going to have a lot of luck getting people doing $1,200 per square foot to leave."

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