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Denim Dish

Bonjour’s Ad Plans<br><br>Bonjour is preparing a reported $2 million marketing, advertising and in-store shop program to back its relaunch for holiday retailing.<br><br>Spearheaded by Carmine Porcelli, managing director of Bonjour, the first...

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Bonjour’s Ad Plans

This story first appeared in the July 18, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Bonjour is preparing a reported $2 million marketing, advertising and in-store shop program to back its relaunch for holiday retailing.

Spearheaded by Carmine Porcelli, managing director of Bonjour, the first teaser ads break outdoor in August and will be followed by a print campaign in January.

Bonjour’s presence in the denim market has slipped considerably since its heyday in the Seventies and Eighties, when it was sold alongside labels like Sergio Valenti and Sasson, but it continued to build volume in mass channels and had sales as high as $450 million in 1997. Porcelli said the firm plans to relaunch the brand in department stores with a focus on the contemporary category.

Porcelli hired Susan Edinger, a former packaging director, as creative director to help market the brand; redesign the logo, hardware and trims; and create in-store shops, promotions and the ad campaign.

Creatively, Porcelli said, “We wanted to do something that wasn’t out there. We wanted to bring an edge to the brand. We wanted that David Lynch edge where you don’t know what’s going on. The campaign is very sexy and saturated in color.”

The ads were photographed in the Rockaways, in Queens, by Dominique Palumbo. The shoot took place in a 1964 red Covair. “It’s about moving forward and travelling. They [the characters] don’t know where they’re going, but you want to go with them,” said Porcelli.

Porcelli wanted to hire models who weren’t familiar to everyone. He signed on Danika and Lisa Davis, as well as Jason Muhlberger.

Before the shoot, Porcelli asked everyone involved to watch “Mulholland Drive,” the David Lynch movie about a lost woman who has amnesia. Porcelli called the campaign “very dreamlike and unusual looking….I really wanted it to be like a movie. It was telling a story about this trip they’re taking. We don’t know where they’re going, but their trip continues.”

Teaser ads break in August on billboards, phone kiosks and bus shelters in New York, and the print campaign will debut in January. A bus campaign will begin in August and run for 18 months in New York.

Bonjour will be sold in such stores as Marshall Field’s, Dayton Hudson, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom and Federated Department Stores. The sportswear line retails from $45 to $60 and is denim-driven, including related separates.

The imagery for the outdoor campaign is more image-driven than product driven. “For the magazines, it will be more product driven,” he said.

Weaving a Way Into Jeans

George Linicomn Jr.’s paintings feature a criss-cross of lines, creating dozens of blank boxes on the canvas. The blank spots are there for a reason: When they’re installed in galleries, the explanatory card encourages viewers to write something in them. He calls it “participative art.”

His latest form of expression is also participative, but in a different way. Linicomn is jumping into the jeans business.

“I’m trying to incorporate people into my designs,” the Arlington, Tex.-based artist said in a phone interview.

Right now, he has one style of jeans, which on Tuesday landed a design patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. They are made by weaving together roughly two-inch-wide strips of denim. The strips are not sewn together, so they allow glimpses of skin to peek through the seams, though the jeans are lined around the crotch and Linicomn is working on a fully lined version.

The 30-year old has been trying to make a living as a painter and sculptor since graduating from Bauder Fashion College in 1992, but decided to start designing clothes because it seemed more remunerative.

“To be truthful, it’s very hard breaking into the art industry,” he said. “I felt like it would be easier to use my creative abilities to come up with something new in the fashion industry and possibly later break into the art world.”

His denim design was inspired by his painting. “The same lines that are in my artwork and now in those jeans,” he said, referring to the lines formed by the interlocking strips of denim.

Linicomn plans to sell his jeans under the GEI name for about $150 wholesale. They’re made in China at a factory he found through a contact he met while working his day job in airline security. The contact, a hotel manager, moonlights as an import broker, according to Linicomn.

Linicomn added that he’s working on another style of jeans that will be more interactive than the current ones.

“I’d like to do some woven jeans where the strips can be different colors and you could change them around,” he said.

Nylon’s Denim Focus

Marvin Scott Jarrett, the editor in chief of Nylon magazine, passed a personal milestone this week. As of Tuesday, he had gone a week without wearing jeans.

He needed a break after spending the previous month drowning in denim, as he worked on Nylon’s August issue, which is dedicated to the fabric and jeanswear.

“It’s a palette to create your own personal style,” he said of denim, “whether it’s jeans and flip-flops and a T-shirt or jeans and boots and a sport coat, there are so many different things you can use denim or jeans for to create an outward appearance.”

In addition to fashion shoots and the obligatory timeline — starting in 1853 with Levi Strauss’s idea of riveting jeans (he’d been making unriveted denim pants for 20 years prior to that) and ending with Karl Lagerfeld’s unveiling of his svelter, jeans-wearing self this year — the 208-page issue issue includes interviews with Lagerfeld and with Diesel owner Renzo Rosso. It also includes a pullout insert listing the world’s top 100 places to buy jeans. Listed by geography and not by rank, the list includes stores from New York’s Canal Jeans Co., to the Gap flagship in San Francisco, to Mavi’s flagship in Istanbul. The issue hits newsstands on July 23.

While the issue may have seemed like overindulgence to Jarrett for a while, he acknowledged that he had jeans on again Tuesday night, after a week in sweatshorts.

“I needed to get a break from it, not only visually, but personally,” he said after his hiatus from jeans wearing. “Now I want to do it again.”

Avondale Back in Black

Cost-cutting moves allowed Avondale Inc. to return to profitability in the third quarter of its fiscal year, despite a 10.3 percent drop in sales, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Monroe, Ga.-based company reported net income of $4.3 million for the quarter ended May 31, compared with a $527,000 net loss the prior-year quarter. Sales were $182.5 million, down from $203.4 million. Cost of goods dropped from 87.3 percent of sales to 83.3 percent. The closely held company discloses its results to the SEC because of public debt.

The firm said in the filing that weak demand for apparel fabrics hurt its results and noted that the relative strength of the dollar in comparison with Asian currencies during the quarter made its products less competitive than foreign imports. While adding that it expected business conditions to remain tough in its fourth fiscal quarter, Avondale added, “demand for the company’s products, particularly denim and yarns, has shown recent improvement and increased unit volume and pricing are anticipated.”

The company’s biggest sales slip came in the yarn business, where revenues fell 23.7 percent, to $50 million, reflecting a drop in volume and selling price. The yarn unit recorded an $800,000 operating loss, compared with $1.9 million in operating income.

Apparel fabric sales fell 10.3 percent to $155 million, though operating income for that unit rose 71.9 percent, to $15.3 million. The company attributed the margin improvement to lower raw material costs.

Other revenues, including gray fabric sales and the company’s trucking business, rose 2.3 percent to $19.7 million, with operating income more than doubling to $1.9 million, from $700,000.

For the nine months, the mill recorded a $5.8 million net loss, which reflects $7 million in restructuring charges. In the prior-year nine-month period, the company reported $6.2 million in income. Sales fell 20.1 percent, to $465.2 million.

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