By  on February 21, 2008

Donwan Harrell wasn't committed to the women's market, until now.

"I've always been apprehensive about doing women's, since it's such a fickle market," said Harrell, who started the premium jeans brand, Prps, shorthand for Purpose, more than three years ago. "Now that we have been around for a while, a lot of our stores have been asking for it, so this seems like a safe time to get into it."

The women's collection, launching for fall, is made up primarily of denim jeans with three styles: the Daytona, a slim boot cut; the Dart, with a superslim leg, and the Firebird, a straight-leg style. Each is available in a variety of washes and treatments that Harrell said are inspired by his love of vintage cars.

"When I was a kid growing up in North Carolina, I always used to hang out at the drag strips and I have my own collection of vintage cars [Harrell owns about 15], so I love that rough, worn-in look that I used to see at the strip," he said, showing off a photo of his Dodge Dart on his cell phone.

There are what look like rust stains and oil spots marked on some of the washes on the jeans, just one of the special elements found on the product. Attention to detail can be seen throughout, from a purple detailed zipper to printed pocket linings and a hand-oiled leather label. Made of Japanese and European fabrics, the jeans are all hand-washed, finished and sewn in Japan.

But realizing that more than a denim line is needed to succeed in a tough economic period, Harrell's Prps collection for women also offers a complete range of sportswear, including flannel button-down tops, rabbit fur vests, flannel-lined cotton jackets, sweaters accented with fur trims and a range of leather jackets. The collection wholesales from $75 for a flannel shirt to about $600 for a leather jacket.

"I want people to see this line as a casual, functional luxury collection," Harrell said. "I want people to look at each piece and say 'I have to have that.' It's all about bringing something new to the table."Harrell declined to give sales expectations for the women's line, but said he hopes for it to eventually be in the same mix of specialty and department stores, such as Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdale's, as the men's product.

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