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Denim Dish: Big Star’s Flashback

Buyers who stop in at the Big Star booth at next week’s Magic International in Las Vegas should be prepared for a moment of déjà vu.<br><br>That’s because Koos Manufacturing, which is relaunching the line for fall retailing at...

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Buyers who stop in at the Big Star booth at next week’s Magic International in Las Vegas should be prepared for a moment of déjà vu.

That’s because Koos Manufacturing, which is relaunching the line for fall retailing at the trade show, this week named Michael Press its national sales manager. Press, who starts Saturday, initially launched the line in the U.S. market in 1993, at a time when the $100-and-up jeans market was first establishing itself domestically.

Press said he expects to have less of an uphill battle on price during his latest tour of duty with the brand.

“When I used to sell Big Star at $55 wholesale, people looked at me like I had three heads,” he said. “It’s easier now for the retailer to understand the market.”

According to Tom Brenner, vice president of sales and marketing at Los Angeles-based Koos and Press’ boss, the line will carry suggested retail prices ranging from $72 to $115, and wholesale for $30 to $50. Press will be based in New York.

The line itself includes slim-fitting, modern-style jeans, with such details as buckle backs, along with tops, said design director Silvio Marcha, who was assigned the task of reinterpreting the brand.

“The concept behind this line is the future of vintage,” Marcha said. “It would be awesome 20 years from now to have somebody buy some of these pants as vintage.”

The jeans have a contemporary fit and low rises, but Marcha said he tried to design a somewhat forgiving cut for the narrow silhouettes: “I don’t want to be so exasperating in the fits that only models are going to wear it….I would like to think that there is a hip 40-year-old that is going to pick up the jeans, as well as an 18-year-old.”

The line includes about 15 styles of jeans, he said, with boot and straight legs, in stretch and rigid fabrics.

The Big Star launch is part of a reinvention of 25-year-old manufacturer Koos, which is owned by Yul Ku. In 2000, the company augmented its private label business by launching AG Adriano Goldschmied, an eponymous line designed by one of the founders of Diesel. Jeans in that line today retail between $120 and $150, above the planned Big Star niche. As reported, the company later this year plans to launch Double A jeans, intended to retail below Big Star at $42 to $60.

Koos also has hired Steve Ellingson to serve as national sales manager for AG Adriano Goldschmied. He also reports to Brennan. Both Ellingson and Press last worked at the Buz Jones lines.

The three Koos brands will be produced in the company’s Los Angeles factory, while the private label operations are migrating to its Mexican facility.

Earlier this year, Ku said he believes Big Star can hit the $150 million annual revenue mark within three years. The brand is owned by the publicly traded Swiss company, Big Star Holding AG. It signed a licensing deal for the brand with Ku after pulling the plug on its company-owned U.S. venture.

Press said he was pleased to be back with the line where he found early success, but joked that he might have been hired for a reason unrelated to his skills as an executive: “I’m the only person who has a lot of Big Star clothing that I could wear at MAGIC.”

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