Calvin Klein Trades Up

Calvin Klein is the latest designer firm to enter the super-premium jeans business.

The company’s denim licensee, Warnaco Group Inc., plans to unveil a line called CK39 for spring retailing at next week’s WWDMAGIC show in Las Vegas. The line, which includes women’s and men’s styles, will be priced above the core status-priced CK Jeans collection and is targeted to a higher tier of retail distribution.

The new product will carry retail prices of $145 to $225. That would suggest a wholesale price range of around $70 to $110, but the firm declined to provide specific figures. By way of comparison, the core Calvin Klein Jeans line retails from $49 to $99.

Colleen Kelly, president of Calvin Klein Jeans, said in an e-mail statement provided by a spokeswoman that the line would appeal to “an established Calvin Klein designer consumer who is currently not able to purchase a pair of jeans” at stores where they typically shop.

She said the line is intended to evoke the simplicity of the original Calvin Klein Jeans shown in ads featuring Brooke Shields in the early Eighties, in which she famously said, “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins.” The line will include four key fits: a boot-cut, a “lean” style, a trouser cut and a boyfriend style, in denim and nondenim fabrics.

The firm is aiming for initial distribution in about 100 to 120 specialty and department stores, but Kelly said the product will not be offered to existing Calvin Klein Jeans accounts. The firm declined to provide a sales projection. Last year, Warnaco’s sales of Calvin Klein Jeans products came to $282.7 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The premium and super-premium jeans business has taken off in recent years and has attracted lots of publicity, with brands such as Seven For All Mankind, Diesel and Citizens of Humanity driving price points past $100 and even $200. But that niche remains such a small sliver of the overall jeans business that major market research firms no longer try to measure it. STS Market Research, based in Cambridge, Mass., reported that 3 percent of the $5.6 billion worth of women’s jeans sold in this country went for $50 or above.

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