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Denim Dish

Earl Expands Its Domain<br><br>It’s been almost a year-and-a-half since Nautica Enterprises Inc. acquired the Earl Jean brand, and the denim line is getting ready to turn up the promotional volume.<br><br>The company is launching its first...

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Earl Jean launched its first ad campaign in the September issue of Interview.

WWD Staff

Earl Expands Its Domain

It’s been almost a year-and-a-half since Nautica Enterprises Inc. acquired the Earl Jean brand, and the denim line is getting ready to turn up the promotional volume.

The company is launching its first advertising campaign this fall, concurrent with the rollout of men’s apparel and accessories.

“We waited a while to do a lot of things with the company,” said Joe Krafka, whom Nautica named president of Earl in October, succeeding Ben Freiwald, who co-founded the company six years ago. “Now we have built the name and we are ready to communicate that it is not just a passing trend.”

The fall ads broke in the September issue of Interview magazine and will roll out to October issues of Ocean Drive, Gotham and L.A. Confidential. The ad will remain only in these regional publications until the spring season, when the company will launch a full national campaign in a wider variety of consumer magazines. Krafka said he also plans to support the ads inside Earl’s U.S. boutiques and in Japan. According to Krafka, the Los Angeles-based firm also plans to open a new store in London, which will be its first freestanding shop in Europe.

“All the details of the spring ads and the London store are in the works, but as we continue to expand our women’s collection and launch men’s, you will see more than just the jeans in the campaign,” he said. “You will also see the accessories: belts, shoes, bags, which are in stores for the fall and are already doing well.”

As far as future growth goes for the brand, Krafka said he is open to expanding distribution outside of the U.S.

“I realize the international distribution opportunities for the brand,” he said. “I am sure we can go further with that since we are already performing well overseas.”

Building the Buz

Buz Jones Jeans, a New York-based jeans brand licensed by Gals New York, has added four new sales positions to its staff.

Michelle Rowe has been named national sales manager at the company. She will oversee day-to-day sales activities of both the men’s and women’s apparel lines. Most recently, Rowe was senior account executive at Moschino. She reports to Monique Buzy-Pucheu, owner of the company.

Anja Michals has been appointed women’s East Coast account executive for Buz Jones women’s division. Most recently, Michals was an account executive at Hippie Jeans and BCBG.

Steven Ellingson joined the company as West Coast regional sales manager for men’s and women’s Buz Jones Jeans. Prior to joining the one-and-a-half-year-old company, Ellingson was regional manager for Diesel and Ben Sherman.

David Gorelick was promoted to the position of men’s East Coast account executive. Before this promotion, Gorelick worked as a sales assistant at Buz Jones, where he has been for seven months.

Michals, Ellingson and Gorelick report to Rowe. All four started with the company late last month.

The Buz Jones Jeans collection is designed by Buzy-Pucheu, a denim and sportswear designer. The line is licensed by Gals New York, a manufacturer and wholesale marketer of private label apparel for women, men and children. Besides Buz Jones, Gals hold the licenses for Christian Lacroix, Cerruti and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac children’s collections.

Buzy-Pucheu called the new hires “a solid group of professionals with proven talent and leadership….The new sales team, combined with our strong design and manufacturing, will enhance and support our existing customer base and help build new relationships.”

MegaDenim Returns

The backers of the YM MegaDenim fashion show — a grouping of jeans brands that show together during New York Fashion Week — have set the lineup for this months’ staging of the event.

The second edition of the show will feature styles from Guess, Dollhouse and Mavi Jeans, as well as returning participants Levi’s and Steven Hardy for Squeeze.

“Obviously, denim is the fabric of choice among teens and we felt it was important to have an opportunity for people to see these brands who don’t show on their own,” said YM publisher Laura McEwen, who noted that each line will be showing a special collection for the show, not just its regular spring lineup.

Darren Greenblatt, a principal in O&D Productions, which produces the show, said: “YM MegaDenim provides editors and buyers an…opportunity to view the latest offerings from the top denim brands out there.”

The show is planned for 11 a.m., Sept. 23, at the Theater in Bryant Park.

Participants were selected by YM based on their advertising in the magazine and financial contributions to the show. Matrix and Jane Cosmetics have signed on as official beauty sponsors of the event.

YM MegaDenim was conceived a year ago, but the fall 2001 edition was cancelled along with the rest of that 7th on Sixth calendar on and after Sept. 11. The spring edition featured Levi’s, Todd Oldham Jeans, Steven Hardy for Squeeze and a group of designers sponsored by DuPont.

Innovo Takes a Bow Wow

The ranks of pop stars lending their names to jeans and sportswear lines continues to grow. Innovo Group Inc., which produces the Joe’s Jeans line, said Tuesday that its Innovo Azteca Apparel division had signed a licensing agreement to produce Lil’ Bow Wow apparel and accessories.

The 14-year-old rapper, who last year released the album “Doggy Bag,” also starred in the summer movie release “Like Mike,” which was about a diminutive basketball player with unexpected jumping abilities.

“The appeal of Lil’ Bow Wow is global,” said Innovo chief executive officer Jay Furrow. “We look forward to incorporating his positive presence and visibility into a very successful apparel and accessory line.”

The licensing deal between Los Angeles-based Innovo Azteca, master agent Bravado International Group and LBW Entertainment, allows Innovo to market boys’ and girls’ apparel and accessories products to all distribution channels and gives it the right of first refusal on other product categories.

As reported, Innovo’s first-half sales were $10.1 million, more than triple what they’d been in 2001. The company recorded a $289,000 net loss for the period ended June 1, compared with a $62,000 loss a year earlier.

Diesel’s Bloomingdale’s Renovations

The folks at Diesel seem to be taking their “Diesel Planet” slogan quite seriously.

Last week, Bloomingdale’s East 59th Street New York flagship unveiled a renovated 1,300-square-foot Diesel corner in its men’s area featuring the vintage furniture, green color and spartan merchandise display typically seen at the company’s retail boutiques. Diesel officials said it’s the most creative they’ve ever been allowed to be in a shop-in-shop, and Andreas Kurz, chief executive of Diesel USA Inc., said he hopes the company will be able to take a similar approach in its women’s shops.

“Our business is 50-50, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to do the same idea in women’s,” he said. He added that there’s one key thing he thinks would convince Bloomingdale’s or any other retailer to allow it to conduct a similar remodeling: “The best persuasion is sell-through and performance in department stores. You have to make your sales per square foot.”

“This is a major renovation,” said Kal Ruttenstein, senior vice president for fashion direction at Bloomingdale’s. He said an updating of Diesel’s women’s space “hasn’t been discussed, but it certainly is possible.”

He added that he expects to be able to boost sales at the remodeled shop 30 to 50 percent from previous levels — a goal that will be key, since the new space is 300 square feet larger than Diesel’s pervious shop at the store, which is catty-corner to the brand’s U.S. headquarters. He did not disclose the brand’s volume at that Bloomingdale’s location, though the brand racked up $92.6 million in total U.S. sales last year, with about half that coming from wholesale accounts, including Bloomingdale’s.

Ruttenstein emphasized that while bringing an apparel brands’ imagery into the store has a value, Bloomingdale’s first priority is maintaining the store’s image.

“We work with vendors and take their input,” he said. “But the Bloomingdale’s image is always the most important element in a redesign.”

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