Mavi’s Four-Letter Words

It’s a party and everyone is invited. That is, if they are wearing Mavi.

In a follow-up to last year’s "Made in Maviland" TV and outdoor advertising campaign, the New York-based denim firm is pushing its name further this back-to-school season with a full print and TV campaign. Set to hit MTV and MTV2 in the U.S. and MuchMusic in Canada, the TV commercial features a group of men and women at a house party.

The words: "eyes, lips, legs, hips, mavi and fits" are highlighted throughout the ad, based on the concept that four-letter words have "an innate ability to say it all and make a definitive statement." Hence, the new company slogan: Mavifits. The ad will show in five segments: one 60-second commercial and four 15-second spots.

"It is the experience of comfort and fit in the feeling of denim being an indispensable part of your life," said Ersin Akarlilar, president of Mavi.

The print campaign was created by the San Francisco-based Leagas-Delaney, which also developed the concept for the TV ads. It was shot by Katrina Dickson and will be placed in fall issues of Blackbook, Interview, Jane, Teen People, Wallpaper and YM in the U.S., as well as Elle Quebec in Canada and Elle Norway, Elle Sweden and Euroman in Europe. The print ads showcase outtakes from the TV commercials and highlight the Mavifits slogan.

Dollhouse Keeps the Beat

When it comes to music, Dollhouse knows a thing or two.

The New York-based junior denim firm has found success in using a celebrity in its ads before and is hoping to tap into that success again with a new round of singers. The first ads, featured last season, included Def Jam recording artist Christina Milian sitting on a motorcycle wearing an outfit from the Dollhouse collection. While Milian’s album has yet to be released, she has made a name for herself as an MTV personality, making her visible to Dollhouse customers. The ads were printed in magazines and on telephone kiosks throughout Manhattan.

"More retailers picked up the brand after they saw the ads with Christina Milian," said a company spokeswoman. "They saw that we are right on target and we are pushing the brand in a way that many other junior labels are not."So for fall, the company is continuing this trend by featuring three up-and-comers, each in their own ad. All three artists are on the Columbia Records label and include Amerie, Jade Anderson and Rose Falcon. With a budget of around $500,000, ads will be placed in the September and October issues of Honey, Elle Girl, Paper, Jane, Lucky, Seventeen and YM magazines.

In addition to featuring each singer in Dollhouse ads, the company is in talks with the label to develop a denim line under the Dollhouse name to reflect each of the singers’ styles. The spokeswoman said that Amerie, Anderson and Falcon would work with Dollhouse designers to achieve this.

"We ran a poll on the Dollhouse Web site that told us that our customers’ number-one influence in fashion came from the music industry," the spokeswoman said. "So we will continue with this trend each season until it becomes uncool."

Novel Denim Loss

Labor unrest led to major cost increases that threw Novel Denim Holdings Ltd. for a loss in the first quarter even as sales posted healthy gains.

For the three months ended June 30, the Hong Kong-based denim and chino maker reported a net loss of $6.2 million, or 68 cents a diluted share. That compares unfavorably with last year when the company reported net income of $3.7 million, or 37 cents.

Net sales for the quarter grew 10.2 percent to $41 million from $37.2 million a year ago. However, cost of goods sold increased 29.8 percent to $37 million from $28.5 million, and selling, general and administrative expenses more than doubled, rising 100.4 percent to $9.2 million from $4.6 million, all of which contributed to the loss.

As reported, the company said two weeks ago that it would suffer a loss in a range of 67 to 70 cents a share, versus earlier guidance of a 22-cent loss.

"Our results for the quarter reflected the impact of the labor dispute in Mauritius and the closing of our operation in Madagascar," said chief executive officer K.C. Chao in a statement. "We experienced significant inefficiencies during the quarter, including higher labor, fabric usage and substantial freight costs. The company’s management is focused on returning the company to nearly 100 percent capacity utilization by the middle of the third quarter."Breaking down sales by segment, garment sales decreased 18.2 percent to $24.5 million from $30 million last year, while third-party fabric sales jumped 86.8 percent to $13.3 million from $7.1 million a year ago.

Now that Novel has exited Madagascar, where political and social unrest made doing business untenable, the company reported it expects to return to normalized operating levels in the second half of the year. As a result, Novel now expects to earn approximately 10 to 20 cents per share for the full fiscal year ending March 31, 2003.

A Little Blue Reading

From railroad workers of the Twenties to the newly svelte Karl Lagerfeld, an upcoming coffee-table book titled, "The Blue Jean," by Alice Harris, chronicles the past 80 years of a signature element of American fashion.

It’s a sequel to her 1996 book "The White T," a collection of photos of people in T-shirts. This volume features 171 images, primarily of jeans-wearing celebrities, including John Wayne, Robert Redford, Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol and Sarah Jessica Parker. There are also a number of historical photos, including farm workers and hippies.

"I thought it was a natural follow-up to my T-shirt book," said Harris, who primarily works on charity projects. "When I was thinking about these classic items that are…like a toothbrush to me, they are so classic and so standard and so elegant and so American and so beautiful."

As for which images stuck with her in preparing the book, Harris said, "The historical images always stand out the most. The rest are always fun and interesting and archival and noteworthy and history-making."

The 144-page book, with text by Bob Morris and Ben Widdicombe, is to be published in October by Powerhouse Books of New York and will retail for $34.95. Harris, who also works with Gay Men’s Health Crisis and VH-1’s Save the Music foundation, intends to donate her proceeds from the book to Save the Music.

Other contributors to the book included photo editor Diana Edkins, designer Joel Avirom and editor Joseph Montebello. Harris’ role, as she put it: "Style creator. I create the concept, I create the ideas and I create the package of how I want it to look. I don’t necessarily write every word, but I am involved in the product from beginning to end."Harris said she aims to follow up the jeans book with a third fashion tome, but denied that it would focus on sneakers or leather jackets — two of the more obvious complements to jeans and T-shirts.

"I have a sequel planned, but it is neither of the above," she said. "The third one is something different."

Back to Black

I.C. Isaacs & Co. Inc. swung back to black in the second quarter of fiscal 2002 even as sales slipped appreciably due to discontinued lines.

For the three months ended June 30, the Baltimore-based jeans and sportswear maker reported net income of $243,000, or 3 cents a diluted share. That compares with last year’s net loss of $2.3 million, or 30 cents. Excluding results from discontinued operations, the prior-year loss would have totaled $2.1 million, or 28 cents.

Sales slipped 7.8 percent to $17 million from $18.4 million a year ago. The decrease in net sales was primarily caused by the discontinuation of the Boss, Beverly Hills Polo Club, UBX and Isaacs product lines.

By segment, second-quarter sales for the company’s Marithé and François Girbaud brand grew 11.1 percent to $17 million from $15.3 million last year. Sales of the Girbaud men’s line increased 18.5 percent to $14.7 million from $12.4 million, while the Girbaud women’s line’s sales fell 20.7 percent to $2.3 million from $2.9 million a year ago.

"While second-quarter net sales of Girbaud increased 11.1 percent from last year, net sales of our Girbaud’s women’s collections were below our expectations," said chief executive officer Robert Arnot in a statement. "We are in the process of repositioning our Girbaud women’s collection as a contemporary line. While we believe this repositioning will improve future growth, we also believe it had a negative impact on current sales with jeanswear accounts."

Overall, for the first six months of the fiscal year, Isaacs reported net earnings of $1.9 million, or 24 cents a diluted share. That compares with last year’s net loss of $1.7 million, or 21 cents. Sales for the period dropped 12.3 percent to $37.1 million from $42.4 million a year ago.

Polo’s New Hire

Renee Levitan has joined the Jones Apparel Group as vice president of women’s sales for the Polo Jeans Co. Levitan comes to the company from the Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., where she was national sales manager for the women’s Ralph Lauren Division for over two years. Prior to that, she served as the director of sales for the women’s division at Tommy Hilfiger. Levitan will report to Bubbles Bott, president of Polo Jeans Co.

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