Everybody Must Get StonedDuring denim’s hot streak over the last few years, manufacturers have rolled out embellishments ranging from embroidery to beads to fur — anything to attract the eye of the overwhelmed shopper. What’s the latest twist in embellishment? Semiprecious stones.The stones, which are hot in jewelry now, are the latest colorful jeans enhancements. Forwear, a New York-based casual sportswear company, has launched a new denim group, adorned with stones such as cat’s eye, turquoise, citrine, lapis and jade. Five styles of jeans, in various washes and silhouettes, feature stone-patterned motifs with such romantic names as "Tree of life" and "Hearts of Love." Often mixed with encrusted beading, stones are sewn on the pockets and front legs of the washable jeans. Introduced at the Atlanta AmericasMart’s spring show last month, the line travelled on Dallas and Chicago markets. According to Steve Palay, sales manager, 1,000 units sold out at the combined markets, with 26 specialty store accounts added at the Dallas market and five new stores during the one day in Atlanta. With inventory and sales projections tripled for spring, Forwear is adding more coordinating styles, including jackets and vests for January deliveries. For late spring, the denim line will include white and black jeans. The company is experimenting with semiprecious stones on shirts and other garments.The stoned jeans are manufactured in China to keep prices down to $79 at wholesale. The core Forwear sportswear line, which starts at $49 for tops to $149 for jackets, is manufactured in New York. Like the novelty and item-driven Forwear line, the jeans group targets a contemporary customer with a generous misses fit, with waist sizes ranging from 26 inches to 30 inches, or roughly size 2 to 12."Embellishment is and will be an important part of denim and contemporary markets," Palay said. "We looked at denim, and where it could be going next. The jewelry market is a major influence on ready to wear."Palay said projected sales of denim, which will soon have its own label, could exceed Forwear’s $3.5 million to $4 million annual company volume.Retailer Doug Harris, owner of Certain Things, a better specialty store with two locations in Raleigh, N.C., said he is certain the jeans will sell, after testing a limited amount of embellished jeans from various resources this fall."There’s no competition for the misses customer," he said. "There’s all kinds of tricky denim out there for the thinnest, young girls. Our customer is in great shape, not thin, but she’s ready for denim again as a wardrobe basic."— Georgia LeeCustom CreativityA|X Armani Exchange is giving consumers a chance to distress themselves.The chain, owned and operated by the New York-based Presidio International, is launching ready-to-sand jeans for spring 2003 retailing. With a woman’s low-rise style and men’s boot cut, the jeans come equipped with a swatch of sandpaper and a sanding block to allow shoppers to hand-abrade the denim as they wish."Customization is such a big trend and this gives customers the chance to make something of their own," a company spokeswoman said. "They can distress the denim, put a hole in the knee, whatever their mood is, they can express it in a pair of jeans."The jeans are to include a hangtag warning that too much sanding on the stitching can tear the threads, though the tag isn’t too technical. "Your jeans, your way. Sandblast your style. Rub a seam, scuff a knee," it said.The jeans will be available at the 45 U.S. stores and the 23 overseas locations beginning in February. Both the women’s and men’s styles retail for $88.— Julee GreenbergGloria’s ExpansionGloria Vanderbilt Apparel, a division of Jones Apparel Group, last month named Robin Dexler director of sales for Gloria and Jeanstar, two new labels added to the Gloria Vanderbilt group of brands.Dexler joined the company from Tommy Hilfiger, where she was account executive for the past three years. Prior to that, she was an account executive at Polo Jeans Co. At Gloria Vanderbilt, Dexler reports to Jack Gross, president.Both Gloria and Jeanstar recently joined the Gloria Vanderbilt group, which includes Gloria Vanderbilt, a misses collection for women 35 years and older, and Glo Jeans, Gloria Vanderbilt’s junior denim collection. Gloria and Jeanstar are for the 25- to 35-year-old contemporary consumer. Executives at the company said the new lines are targeted at consumers who no longer want trendy junior looks but still seek sexy fits and fashionable styles, such as jeans with lace-up fronts, sandblasting and whiskers."We are focused on making both Gloria and Jeanstar an important part of Gloria Vanderbilt’s overall brand positioning," Gross said. "Our strategy includes a diverse and distinct brand delineation — Jeanstar for department stores and Gloria for national chains."The launch of Gloria and Jeanstar will be supported with print advertising, point of purchase in-store displays and a contest to find the "Gloria woman" to represent the brand in advertising.Gloria, which officially hits stores for spring retailing, will expand to include tops and jackets for fall 2003. Both collections wholesale between $16 and $17 and the company is targeting Gloria to national chain stores such as Kohl’s, Mervyn’s, J.C.Penney and Sears. Jeanstar is scheduled to hit stores next fall.— J.G.Star TurnMovies weren’t the only thing debuting at the Cannes film festival last spring. Denim newcomer Corleone got its jeans on the likes of Cameron Diaz and Rosanna Arquette. On the heels of such great exposure, the collection is now bowing in stores in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South America and the United States. Though the company is American in spirit with jeans styles named after streets around Manhattan’s Little Italy, Corleone is a European company, with production taking place in Italy and all commercial transactions based in Paris. The core collection consists of five women’s styles in nine different washes of black, white and blue. Top-booking styles include the "Mulberry" a fitted, low-waisted style with long slits beginning above the ankle and the five-pocket, slightly flared "Mercer," which is low-waisted, as well. Also available are a higher-waist option, shirts, jackets and several skirts. Corleone jeans wholesale prices range from $60 to $80. The jeans are available at Calypso in New York, Shade in Paris, Fiorucci in Milan and Daslu in Sao Paolo, Brazil.— Alison Beckner

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