By  on January 31, 2008

Marithé & François Girbaud believes denim's place in fashion is the stuff of legend. So for fall, the firm will launch a high-end denim collection called Legend for women and men consisting of only denim jeans.

"We have 30 years of work on constructions and treatments that we own and incorporate into our pieces," said François Girbaud. "This legacy is our identity and our signature. We can still bring a lot to the denim market and it was the time, especially in the U.S., to come back taking a strong position in the premium market."

Girbaud has signed with I.C. Isaacs & Co. Inc. to produce and distribute the brand in the U.S.

"Marithé & François have always been students of consumer behavior," said Bob Stec, chief executive officer of I.C. Isaacs. "Over the years, they have watched how the premium market has grown and they truly believe that this is a segment which has longevity."

The first collection, wholesaling from $83 to $130, focuses on special denim treatments and finishes. There are 10 different women's styles and seven for men. Each piece is accessorized with Girbaud's 30-year-old iconic symbols tattooed into the fabric on the belt loops and waistbands. The buttons, rivets and zippers on the jeans are also treated like jewelry, rather than just metal.

"The buttons are sculpted and all of the hardware is in gold and silver, to make each item more special," Stec said. "Each of the styles is also unique in that the jeans themselves are sculpted. There are baggy and tight styles, but there are some made with no front seams — it's really an architectural take on denim design. This line will give the customer a reason to buy a new pair of premium jeans."

The collection is being targeted to high-end specialty and department store retailers such as Bloomingdale's and Barneys New York. Stec declined to give first-year sales expectations for the brand, but said he wants to make Legend a $20 million brand.

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