LOS ANGELES — Ooh la la, Denim veteran Paul Guez is at it again.
A co-founder of the Sasson jeans brand is rolling out the Antik and Taverniti So Jeans lines for early spring and has acquired the worldwide master apparel license from Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc., tapping into the craze for vintage rocker T-shirts and merchandise. Guez saw Sasson rocket to success in the late Seventies, but lost control of the brand after a bankruptcy proceeding in the late Eighties.
Guez said his firm, Blue Concepts, which operates as an incubator of fashion brands, is on track to bring in $30 million in revenues in 2004. With the new lines, sales should exceed $50 million next year.
To illustrate the power of the Elvis deal, Dolce & Gabbana had to get Guez’s approval before it presented a T-shirt of the rock legend at its fashion show last week.
For now, Guez is seeing how the new brands hold up alongside Blue Concepts’ existing labels: Yanuk, U, Duarte Jeans and Rick Owens/Slab.
“I have to pause and really digest what I have on my plate,” he said.
Guez said he relishes the challenge of building brands, rather than simply providing product to retailers. That’s what he does with his other firm, Azteca Production International, which he owns in partnership with his brother, Hubert. Azteca is a 13-year-old firm that produces for Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.
The siblings also own a stake in the publicly traded Innovo Group. Its wholly owned subsidiary, Innovo Azteca Apparel Inc., bought Blue Concepts’ customer lists and purchase orders for $21.8 million last year. While Guez owns a stake in all these companies, they are legally independent from each other.
The strength of the Blue Concepts venture is the autonomy designers receive, Guez asserted. Blue Concepts provides the back-end support for the fledgling labels to enable the product to flourish and attract customers on the front end. The team at the Commerce, Calif., headquarters provides the resources for sample making, shipping, production and sales. At the same time, the designs have to pass muster with Guez, a transition of sorts for designers who had been accustomed to carte blanche sketching.
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