By  on January 8, 2009

Two-year-old women’s DENIM MAKER RICH & Skinny is introducing its first men’s product this season, under the label Rich by Rich & Skinny.

“We thought guys want to be rich, but not necessarily skinny,” said Joie Rucker, the brand’s co-founder and creative director, of the masculine turn of name for the new line.

The first men’s product is soft launching this month at a handful of Saks Fifth Avenue locations and three specialty stores — Blue Bee Men in Santa Barbara, Calif., Ron Herman in Los Angeles and E Street Denim in Chicago. New accounts are being added at this week’s Intermezzo trade show, as well as ENK Vegas and Coterie in February, for deliveries later this spring. Men’s jeans will also be available on the e-commerce site later this month.

Rich & Skinny was founded in 2006 by Rucker — a veteran of Levi Strauss and Guess, and the former co-founder of the Joie contemporary label (in which she is no longer involved), and Michael Glasser, the co-founder of Seven for All Mankind and Citizens of Humanity. The brand is sold in about 400 specialty and department store doors, including Kitson, Planet Blue, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. The women’s business made its mark with sleek, form-fitting colored jeans, but Rucker and Glasser have taken a different approach to the men’s collection, emphasizing classic five-pocket styles in vintage blues and grays.

“We wanted to offer all the luxury and sexiness of the women’s product, but with a really masculine feel and look,” said Rucker. “These are clean, supercomfortable jeans at a great price.”

The men’s lineup wholesales for $86 to $94, with the goal of most of the jeans retailing for under $200. It is sold out of the Joey Showroom offices in New York and Los Angeles. This first season, there are three available fits — slim-straight, boot-cut and relaxed — and three washes, including a resin wash with 3-D detailing, a vintage wash and a distressed wash on yarn-dyed gray denim.

All the fabric is sourced from Italy and incorporates 2 percent stretch, with cutting, sewing and washing done in Los Angeles. Hardware buttons resemble cuff links, with Rucker using a vintage pair of Cartier designs as inspiration. Another signature selling point is 800-thread-count pocket bags and waistband linings.

“It’s the best sheeting you can find,” Rucker said. “It’s superstrong and soft.”

The Rich & Skinny brand rang up sales of close to $20 million last year despite a weaker market for premium denim, according to Glasser, who is majority owner of the company. He is self-financing Rich & Skinny from the sizable payouts he received for his former interests in Seven for All Mankind and Citizens of Humanity. Last fall, the company brought on Mark Saltzman as chief operating officer to help guide growth. Saltzman was chief operating officer at Kellwood Co.’s Vince brand.

In addition to the men’s initiative, Rich & Skinny will debut knit tops for women at ENK Vegas and Coterie next month.

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