LOS ANGELES — It's a routine familiar to any aspiring actress in Tinseltown — shuffling to meetings clutching a flip book filled with glossy photographs and praying that someone will give her a break.
Recently, Carie Salter trotted through similar motions. Rather than replacing Nicole Kidman on the big screen, Salter, the 29-year-old president of a new denim line called Bogdenoff, hopes to land her pricy jeans in a high-profile showroom and eventually in well-known specialty shops such as Los Angeles' Maxfield.
Dropping by uninvited at nine showrooms to gauge preliminary interest in her four-month-old venture that she plans to launch for the holiday season, Salter heard the same rejection uttered in myriad ways.
"It could be potentially a conflict of interest because they already have other denim lines. Summer is slow for denim. They are not feeling the pants. Their plates were full," were just a few responses, recalled Salter, who, along with her 30-year-old husband, Andy, a private equity investor, is funding the apparel start-up with personal money and partnering with the label's namesake and designer, David Bogdenoff.
Showroom owners have a reason to be wary.
"Frankly, the denim market is down, dramatically down, right now," said Jason Bates, owner of Derelicte Inc., a Los Angeles showroom that carries a single denim line, Bread, among sportswear brands such as Sweden's WeAretheSuperlativeConspiracy and Perry Ellis International's Original Penguin.
Furthermore, at a time when shopkeepers said retail prices for premium denim have settled on the $150-to-$200 range, Bogdenoff's starting price of $239 seems intimidating. The company attributed its lofty prices to the unusual multipaneled construction concocted by its 43-year-old designer. Having customized jeans for Mick Jagger, designed denim for Anna Sui and made patterns for Alexander McQueen, Bogdenoff came up with a concept to divide a pair of pants into 40 panels, with separate sections for the knee, thigh, calf and hem.
"For 100 years, [the jean's] been constructed the same way," Bogdenoff said. "It's rather boring — five pockets and four panels."
One Tuesday afternoon, the Salters toted a black bag stuffed with eight pairs of men's and women's jeans for appointments with Derelicte's Bates and the manager of Showroom 7. While waiting for one of his staff members to try on the jeans, Bates sat on the edge of a white leather couch and peppered the Salters with questions:
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