DENIM DISH

LEVI'S IN PRINT: Levi Strauss is writing its biography.
The 145-year-old San Francisco-based denim manufacturer is compiling a coffee table book to be published later this year by Levi's.
The book traces the history of the brand, from its founding during California's Gold Rush to the present. It will include a foreword by Richard Martin, curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
In other Levi's news, a slew of the company's execs were in New York Tuesday evening to launch a multimillion-dollar ad campaign for its men's Dockers brand khakis.
As 400 retailers and ad execs nibbled dim sum at Sony Studios on West 54th Street, they could watch the new Dockers TV commercials and "projections"--brief spots that will be projected several stories high on the sides of buildings in various cities.
The campaign is targeting a slightly younger audience than the one that usually wears Dockers. According to Levi's officials, rather than appealing to a man in his 40s, these are aimed at men in their 20s and 30s. Levi's said it will spend $12 million just on the launch.
One of the new 30-second commercials shows a young man crawling after his cat on a building ledge. The crowd below thinks he is a potential suicide. As the camera pans the onlookers, a voice-over reveals what they're thinking. "Maybe I should move my car," says one. There are several versions, but each commercial ends with the campaign's tag line, "Nice pants."
The commercials will break in August and run through Father's Day 1996.
The outdoor spots will be projected every night for one week in September in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The exact weeks and locations haven't been determined yet.

THE NAME REMAINS THE SAME: If Gloria Vanderbilt is facing a bunch of tax problems, as published reports Wednesday indicate, they won't be solved even if the jeans and accessories lines that bear her name quadruple their volume.
Jack Gross, president of Gloria Vanderbilt Apparel Corp. in New York, said Vanderbilt sold her name fully to Murjani International Ltd. in the early Eighties, which sold it to Gitano in 1988, which in turn, sold it to Gross and a private investor group in August 1993. Gross said Vanderbilt no longer receives royalties from the use of her name.RENEWED BLUES: Recycling fever has hit the denim industry, and Giorgio Armani is right in line. He'll introduce a small group of recycled denim items to his spring/summer 1996 A/X Armani jeans line, the company said.
The collection will include two jeans styles, a cap and two bags, and will be made from denim fabric that was first broken down to fibers and re-woven.
The company said the recycling process respects the environment by saving energy, farmland and water. Because recycled denim keeps its indigo color, it eliminates the dyeing process. The denim cloth will come from a number of sources, including end runs, surplus and seconds from mills.
Simint, which produces the A/X Armani jeans and sportswear line, will produce the recycled product, which will be distributed in Emporio Armani boutiques and through A/X Armani retail networks in Europe and Asia. Distribution in North America will begin next year.
The new group will be shipped with a tag that explains the recycling process. Prices will be slightly higher than for new denim, which retails for about $73 for a pair of five-pocket jeans.

COWBOY CHRISTIAN: Christian Lacroix officially galloped into denim country this month when his new jeans line debuted in the seaside town of Taormina, Sicily.
The Lacroix house is banking on the potential of its aggressive business partner Gilmar SpA, which is sharpening its claws for an assault on the designer jeans market.
The company, based in San Giovanni in Maringnano on Italy's Adriatic coast, will produce Jeans de Christian Lacroix and handle part of the distribution. Gilmar's contract with Lacroix is for six years, with an option to renew.
Lacroix's design house is hoping the new line will have the same commercial success as the Bazar de Christian Lacroix diffusion collection that was launched in 1994. Lacroix's business has lost money every year since it opened in 1987, but is expected to report a small loss in 1995 and actually post a profit in 1996. As reported, Lacroix's financier Bernard Arnault has given the house until the end of 1996 to break even.
Jeans de Christian Lacroix, the name of the new endeavor, is expected to generate between $18 million and $20 million in wholesale volume in 1996 and $90 million within the next five years. Robert Bensoussan, president of Lacroix, said the jeans line could eventually make up as much as 35 percent of Lacroix's overall sales.
The collection, which will be expanded to include jeans for men, is expected to be in 1,000 stores by the end of 1999.
Bensoussan said about 70 percent of sales would be generated in the European market and the remaining 30 percent from the U.S. and Japan. He declined to say where the line would be distributed in North America but added: "We have very big ambitions for the jeans in the U.S."
Gilmar recently opened an office just for its jeanswear business a few miles from its main offices in Cattolica and hired Antonello Antenucci, a former commercial director of Versace Jeans Couture at Ittierre, to run the new venture.
Gilmar plans to launch a jeans line for Anna Sui, whose new secondary line, Sui by Anna Sui, is produced and distributed by the company.
Bensoussan said Lacroix will finance design and will handle distribution of the jeans line in the U.S., Japan and England. All production will be handled by Gilmar.
Meanwhile, the designer said he had "absolutely no fear" that a denim line would downgrade the image of the house.
"This house was born in the era of 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty,' but that's over now," Lacroix said. "Eight years ago, it would not have made sense for us to do jeans and deluxe haute couture. Now it does."

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