By  on February 12, 2009

Diana Sedigi and Bob Bak are looking to capture Southern California’s sun-and-surf lifestyle in a new line called Malibu Denim.

Sedigi, who designs and styles the line, found her inspiration in the beaches at Malibu after settling there several years ago.

“I love Malibu,” she said. “I live there and wanted to get that lifestyle out there. Our washes and the way the jeans look have a casual, relaxed feel to them.”

The beach setting gave Sedigi her direction on washes, in particular. Malibu Denim’s wash treatments are meant to replicate the sun-baked and salt-and-sand textured look of jeans that have been worn to the beach many times.

Bak, who designed the Aristocrat denim label until December 2007, said getting the look right took time. Hand grinding and rubbing is done to take off a top layer of the fabric without tearing it or leaving white patches. A chemical process is used to enhance the soft hand of the fabric, as well.

“It’s very subtle and very authentic,” Bak said. “It looks like a jean you’ve had for 10 years.”

Sedigi brings an extensive denim pedigree to the line. For 56 years, her father owned and operated a denim operation throughout Europe that included fabric production, laundering, manufacturing and design. The company, based in Italy, produces denim for brands such as Diesel, Replay and Kenzo. Five years ago, Sedigi resigned as head of the family’s denim design and styling division with the goal of launching her own line. Her brother now runs the company, but she maintains a 15 percent stake.

Sedigi is taking full advantage of having a denim mill in the family. Malibu Denim will use an exclusive fabric that contains 1 percent Lycra spandex and 1 percent cashmere. Bak, who will oversee production and quality, said they are also setting up their own laundering and manufacturing facilities.

The line targets consumers in the 20-to-45-year-old age range with a distribution primarily made up of specialty stores such as Scoop, Intermix, National Jean Co. and E Street Denim. Wholesale prices will range from $75 to $95, and the collection will consist of 10 styles available in 15 washes. Sedigi and Bak are estimating first-year sales of $5 million, with about 250 points of sale. The line will begin shipping in late summer.

The collection’s most distinctive feature will be the design and placement of the back yoke. Placing the yoke on the highest point of the hip lifts the butt and gives the jeans a modern and contemporary look, said Bak and Sedigi.

The pair acknowledge that it’s a challenging time to be launching a new line but believe specialty retailers are craving new products. Sedigi’s connection to her family mill and her more than $5 million in working capital, combined with Bak’s background in production, gives them confidence that they can succeed.

“I really feel that this is the time that retailers should have new stuff on the shelves for their customers,” Sedigi said. “If they’re sticking to the old things, there’s no reason for a customer to buy anything.”

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