Premium denim brands have long been associated with Los Angeles, but a South Korean husband-and-wife team are hoping their first label targeted at the U.S. and Europe will expand people's horizons.
Jung-Ho Noh and his wife, Nara Chun, are looking to break into the American market this spring with Bluenotch Jeans. The line is manufactured using Japanese denim and includes men's and women's denim bottoms and jackets. Jun No, the brand's managing director, said more than 70 styles were developed to show potential customers. However, after showing the line in Paris last month and New York last week, the line will be winnowed down to a more manageable 30 styles, 23 of which are women's.
Bluenotch places a heavy emphasis on slim and skinny silhouettes, which are the basis for all its other styles, said No.
"We're focused on the skinny," said No. "It makes your legs look longer than any other jeans, so we used the skinny to develop even our boot-cut and straight-cut jeans. Other brands focus on a straight cut and develop from that their boot or skinny, but we developed from skinny to straight and boot."
As a result, even Bluenotch's boot-cut features a narrow thigh and comparatively minimal flare. For details, Noh and Chun turned to the world of body piercing. The front fifth, or watch, pocket on several styles is adorned with a traditional straight barbell piercing. Other styles feature smaller horseshoe-shaped piercings dangling from the bottom of belt loops. No said incorporating piercings into the design was meant to appeal to the lifestyle of Bluenotch's target customer.
"Many people these days have tattoos or piercings to express their character, so we put that character into our jeans," said No.
With the exception of sourcing its fabric from Japan, Bluenotch is almost an entirely South Korean enterprise. Noh and Chun, who met in design school, have been in the denim business in the country since 1996, when they opened Blue Blue Corp.
Their operations have expanded steadily since. The company's two manufacturing facilities produce four denim brands under the Blue Blue, Blue Boy, Blue Wash and Never Mind labels, all of which sell throughout Asia. Earlier this year the company finished reopening a wash factory located outside Seoul. According to the company, the wash house was specifically located to take advantage of the area's high water quality, a result of the surrounding mountains and the area's natural springs. In order to preserve that quality, the company said it has installed a filtration system that filters its waste water four times before being released. No said he believes it is the only wash facility in South Korea that is treating its water before reintroducing it to the environment.Bluenotch denim will retail for between $180 and $220, with the company targeting distribution in higher-end boutiques. The company is targeting first-year sales of approximately $4 million at retail.
"We're trying to focus on quality and start building our customers," said No. "We're working on the foundation of the brand."
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