History counts in the jeans business, where several brands claim heritages of nearly or more than 100 years — no small feat in a category that’s only existed for about 130 years. But the importance of history is one of the drivers behind...
History counts in the jeans business, where several brands claim heritages of nearly or more than 100 years — no small feat in a category that’s only existed for about 130 years. But the importance of history is one of the drivers behind the fall relaunch of Smith’s American, a denim brand founded in Brooklyn, circa 1906.
Melanie Drake, who’s designing the new line, said she stuck closely to its heritage, focusing on utilitarian looks and bringing back the railroad-stripe denim that was one of the brand’s icons.
“There are no five-pocket basic jeans [in the new line],” she said. While styles are cut to resemble men’s clothing, she added, “Everything is fitted for a girl….They’re sexy boy styles.”
The relaunch is being driven by the dress resource, Jessica Howard, owned by Bobby Glickman and Howard Roth, who have licensed the rights to make Smith’s American apparel from the owners of the brand.
The company decided to make the move after watching the flurry of activity in the denim market in recent years, Glickman explained in an interview this week at Smith’s Midtown Manhattan showroom, which is cluttered with nostalgic signs and other tokens of the brand’s past.
“We said, ‘How are we going to get a line together that will compete with some of the better jeans manufacturers?’” he said.
He decided that the history would give the brand an edge. For much of the early 20th century, Smith’s churned out basic, durable denim jeans and work clothes targeted at manual laborers. But in the Seventies, the brand became a fashion icon for its overalls and painter’s pants. The line had passed to other licensed manufacturers in the late Nineties and later slipped out of production.
The new collection, which will begin shipping next month, includes four cuts of jeans, each available in eight stretch and rigid fabrics. Wholesale prices run from $40 to $50, with overalls wholesaling for $62, according to Dara Rosenberg, who’s handling sales.
The line also includes tops, which wholesale for $27 to $30, and jackets, wholesaling for $50. It is manufactured in Los Angeles.Glickman said the brand will target “upscale specialty stores.” He expects that it could generate about $1 million in sales during its first season.
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