Mavi Makes It

After about nine months of construction, the Turkish jeans brand Mavi this month opened its first U.S. retail location just south of Manhattan’s Union Square. The store, at 832 Broadway, opened April 1. Mavi’s plans for the store were first reported by WWD last June.

The 5,000-square-foot bi-level space carries the full Mavi collection, including pieces not seen anywhere else in the U.S., such as accessories and an exclusive line of jeans. Designed by Pompei A.D., the new store was inspired by Mavi’s use of natural fibers in clothing. The hardwood floors are not polished, but instead are left rough-looking with detail added to make it appear as if the boards were stitched together, like jeans. The metal railing on a staircase leading to the art gallery on the lower level also looks like it was weaved together.

"We hope the elements — the store design, exclusive denim and gallery exhibitions — together, will allow the unique Mavi customer to grow and evolve with Mavi," said Ersin Akarlilar, president of Mavi North America.

The custom fixtures showcase the merchandise, such as jeans attached to hanging frames on hinges, like poster retailers use, so the customer can easily see the front and back of each style.

Company executives said they don’t intend to sell merchandise on the lower level, but instead plan to use it to exhibit the work of young artists. The first exhibit is called "Collective Conscious," and when it opens next week, it will showcase 11 artists’ work in an integration of music, fashion and art — an eclectic mix of videos, paintings, sculptures, photographs, blinking light boxes and sound installation.

"For these artists, this is one of their first shows in New York," said Simon Watson, curator of the exhibit. "In a way, it mirrors what Mavi is doing — speaking to a new generation."

The gallery is free for people to come and browse the exhibition, and the space also will be used for events and parties.

Akarlilar said he expects the store to bring in $2 million in sales in its first year. — Julee Greenberg

Express Tries on Seven7

Looking to climb into the premium denim business, the specialty retail chain Express for fall plans to introduce a line of co-branded jeans called Seven7 for Express, according to an Express spokeswoman. These will be the only jeans Express sells that bear another brand name.

This comes from a deal between Express and Tarrant Apparel Group chairman and chief executive Gerard Guez. Guez owns Seven Licensing Co., which holds the U.S. rights to the Seven7 brand, which was founded in Paris and is not related to the high-end Seven for All Mankind brand.

Guez said Seven Licensing would be selling the product.

The Express spokeswoman said the legal details of the deal were still being worked out.

"We’re constantly looking for new and innovative ways to carve our niche as a leader in the dual-gender denim market and instantly viewed this partnership as a step in that direction," said Express president Michael Weiss, through the spokeswoman.

Express plans to retail the Seven7 for Express jeans at $78 to $98 — well above its current top retail jeans price of $49.50. The jeans are to begin shipping Aug. 1 to all Express women’s stores and 250 of its top men’s stores. The line will include 10 styles of women’s jeans and six styles of men’s jeans, as well as some tops and nondenim casual bottoms.

There were 1,027 Express stores as of March 1.

Express’ parent company, Limited Brands Inc., is a key customer of Tarrant. According to filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission, Limited accounted for 22.6 percent of Tarrant’s $347 million in sales last year. —Scott Malone

Hitting the Haute Button

In a courtyard off the tony Rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, couture meets denim. Budding couturier Vincent Dupontreué, 25, just opened his first ready-to-wear store at No. 70 specializing in stretch jeans.

"I’ve done it backwards," he said. "My haute couture has financed my ready-to-wear."

The vivid 160-square-foot boutique displays Dupontreué’s denim designs like works of art, in large gold frames, to better show off all that intricate workmanship. Baggy "beach" jeans, tapered "cricket" jeans and a straight-leg style with working buttons running along the outseam have emerged as early bestsellers. Retail prices range from $162 to $475. Customers also can order one-of-kind styles with crystal sequin decoration that run up to $3,270, depending on the size of the design. All prices are converted from the euro at current exchange rates.For spring, there are seven different models of jeans, with a variety of stitch and wash options. The collection also includes denim bustiers and jeans jackets. Dupontreué wholesales to a handful of small specialty stores in Europe and Asia, but he plans to focus on retail. Once the economy improves, he has his eye on London and Los Angeles to open new locations. Meanwhile, he’s out to bolster his reputation for originality and quality at his Paris outpost.

"Color can go in and out of fashion, but not cuts," he said. "I am sure a jacket from the Eighties can still be worn if the quality and cut were good. I like style to be timeless."— Emilie Marsh

Welcome to South Korea

Dollhouse, a New York-based junior denim and sportswear brand, has entered South Korea.

The company signed a license with Kudex to develop and distribute the Dollhouse brand in that country. Besides opening a showroom, the company plans to open five stores by the end of the year. Within three years, the company aims to have 60 freestanding stores throughout the country.

"We really had to begin expanding the brand globally," said Edward Ash, licensing director for Dollhouse. "The response in South Korea was so great that we just had to go there. They really love American goods."

Ash said he expects $3 million in sales after the brand’s first full year in South Korea.

In other company news, it’s working on a plus-size junior line. While the plans have yet to be finalized, the company is considering joining forces with a celebrity in the music industry to represent the new line. — J.G.

VF Plugs In

The slew of trade pacts the U.S. has negotiated over the past decade offer apparel manufacturers many chances to avoid duty and quota charges. But the standards vary widely in the deals covering North America, the Caribbean Basin and sub-Saharan Africa, making sourcing decisions a paperwork nightmare.

For instance, it’s fine to use Mexican fabric in garments made within the NAFTA region, but if a U.S. apparel company ships that same fabric to Guatemala, it misses out on the duty break.In an effort to take full advantage of NAFTA, the Caribbean Basin Trade Promotion Act and the African Growth & Opportunity Act, VF Corp. is phasing in a new piece of software produced by Rockville, Md.-based Nextlinx Corp.

The software, called Trade Collaborator, can be used by sourcing managers to track the fabric and garment components they order to ensure the materials meet all the rules of origin in those trade laws. Those rules, which were primarily intended to ensure regional fabric content in the case of NAFTA and U.S. fabric content in the case of CBTPA and AGOA, vary widely.

In a statement, Greensboro, N.C.-based VF said it expected the new software to help it reduce inventory costs, the risk of not complying with the laws and the amount of work it takes to track sourcing. — S.M.

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