NEW YORK — The designer jeans era of the Seventies is long gone, but Bonjour isn’t forgetting the woman who once sported its denim pants.
Bonjour, most popular with teenage girls of that generation, is now shooting for the attention of those same Baby Boomers by resurrecting the label for spring into a better-priced sportswear collection — but designed to fit a more grown-up figure.
With lots of stretch for comfort, today’s Bonjour jeans are far different than the tight-fitting numbers of decades past.
"We’re dressing the same woman, but she’s older now," said Alex Cole, design director at Bonjour. "We’re giving her fashion that’s not too youthful, so she’ll feel hip but not look like a teenager."
The new Bonjour goes beyond just jeans, but all styles are still denim-related. Cole said features such as cross-hatching, asymmetric seams, ringspun denims and incorporating stretch into everything will provide the right look and fit for this customer, who is likely in the 25-to-60-year-old range. The initial collection includes about 45 pieces spread over denim jeans, jackets, vests, skirts and woven separates. Prices wholesale from $19 for pants to $48 for jackets.
The Levy Group, the large outerwear firm that also produces the 10-year-old Wildlife sportswear line, holds the license for Bonjour sportswear and jeans. The line is expected to generate sales of $7 million to $10 million in its first year.
Carmine Porcelli, managing director of Bonjour, who’s charged with relaunching the brand that last appeared on store shelves in 1987, said he thinks there’s a need in better sportswear for fashion that’s not too youthful, not too expensive and not too "missy."
"She’s not buying the most expensive thing, and she’s not buying the least expensive thing and she definitely wants fashion," said Porcelli, who likes to use Julia Roberts as inspiration for the perfect Bonjour-wearing woman, someone with a healthy figure. "This woman is sexy — not anorexic."
Still, it’s never easy to launch a brand — especially one that has a prior and much different life. During its heyday, Bonjour jeans were sold alongside other "designer jeans" labels like Sergio Valenti, Sasson, Jordache and Gloria Vanderbilt.But women still have fond memories toward their designer label jeans, Porcelli said, making the challenge of reviving the Bonjour brand lessened because of that.
"Their daughters also like it for the retro sensibility," said Porcelli, who helped to relaunch the Halston brand in the mid-Nineties. "The good thing [about the brand] is, because it was absent for so long, it actually became a virgin brand again, so there was nothing to apologize for."
In keeping with the new look of Bonjour, the label has also been updated. On the jeans’ pockets is a burnt orange wave-like swoosh, with the name Bonjour written in cursive. The inside label is also burnt orange, with a deeper toned orange reading: Bonjour Leading Life.
To make finding one’s size easier, the tags will be color-coordinated so that a size 8 will always be purple and a size 6 will always be pink, for instance.
"We’re trying to make it friendlier for the customer to shop," Porcelli said.
Another important component of selling the brand will be in-store shops. The first one will open at Marshall Field’s on State Street in Chicago in the spring, followed by other department stores. The shops will be about 450 square feet and will feature the full collection in a cozy, yet clearly divided, selling space.
Liz Haesler, senior vice president of ready-to-wear at Marshall Field’s, said of the line: "It’s updated, sophisticated fashion at an affordable price. Names don’t necessarily drive people to purchase or not purchase as they used to. Some people know the name, but it really represents something a bit more exotic and sexy. I respect the details, the trims, washes and tops. They’re building a brand, and addressing the marketing and positioning of it."
Bonnie Junell, corporate merchandiser at Nordstrom, likes Bonjour for its "fashion integrity" and "true missy fit at great price points."
"While the product reflects current trends in cuts and washes, it’s designed to fit and flatter a wider range of figures," Junell said. "We think women are going to love having more choices in shopping for style-conscious denim."Meanwhile, Porcelli has big dreams for Bonjour, everything from "clothing to home furnishings, skin care and not just fragrance."
"We really see it turning into a full lifestyle brand," he said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast