Calvin’s Choice in Denim

Brooke Shields was just 15 years old when she cooed her famous line, “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins.” Twenty-four years later, Calvin Klein is offering 15-year-olds a new choice in jeans.

The brand plans to roll out a new jeans line, Choice Calvin Klein, for spring retailing, targeting what a spokeswoman called an “energetic, youthful” consumer.

In April, Calvin Klein unveiled the Choice concept, first on a line of innerwear that shipped for fall 2004 retailing. The Choice label also will appear on a swimwear collection that, like the jeans, will ship for spring.

It’s part of a broader extension of the Calvin Klein business with licensee Warnaco Group Inc., which is producing all three Choice product lines and also plans to roll out a CK39 superpremium jeans line for spring.

A spokeswoman for Warnaco called the launch “part of the brand’s evolution.”

“Calvin Klein is developing a whole series focused on the contemporary buyer,” she said. “This is just the next category.”

The brand will target girls aged 14 to 22. The brand’s name, Choice, “speaks to girls who want choices in their life,” the spokeswoman said. The line offers a range of styles, including graffiti denim washes, boot cuts, miniskirts and shorts. Choice differs from CK Calvin Klein by offering younger, more fashion-forward silhouettes. The line also includes knit tops, T-shirts, satin bombers and tanks.

“Calvin Klein is known for fit,” the spokeswoman said. “We haven’t changed that. We just didn’t want young girls who wanted stylish jeans to have to wear their mom’s Calvin Klein jeans.”

The company is targeting the line at a retail price range of $29 to $59 at specialty and department stores, suggesting a wholesale price range of around $15 to $30 based on typical markups.

The firm declined to provide sales projections for the new line, though company officials and industry sources previously estimated the other Choice collections would likely represent incremental growth of Warnaco’s Calvin Klein businesses. Last year, Warnaco’s sales of Calvin Klein products came to $561.8 million, about 41 percent of its total revenues. Warnaco’s other businesses include an extensive assortment of intimate apparel, licensed Chaps products and the Speedo brand. — Lauren DeCarloVery Vintage

The introduction of stonewashed jeans in the Seventies prompted some parents to grouse to their children about paying good money for a pair of pants that already looked worn out.

Those are not the sort of people who’d understand Ellen Flanz.

The Bozeman, Mont.-based dealer in vintage clothing plans to begin a Web auction Friday for a pair of Carhartt jeans that she said dates back to the Thirties. She plans to start the bidding at $7,500. It will be open on her Web site, VintageCoolThings.com, through Oct. 31.

She said the jeans, which feature a buckle back and spots of whitewash, spent much of the past half-century-plus in the barn of a now-deceased Montana rancher.

“I got them at auction,” she said. “They almost threw them out. The auctioneers said they were found in the barn on the ranch.”

The jeans in question were part of a lot of four pieces, including a pair of similarly old Lee jeans, a wool jacket and a pair of overalls that Flanz hasn’t yet identified — “they have these gorgeous trains on the buttons, like a locomotive.” Flanz said she paid “a few hundred dollars” for the lot.

The pockets of the jeans held a 1941 newsletter from a local Elks lodge and empty Lucky Strike cigarette packages.

After selling the Lee jeans to a European designer for that brand for a four-figure sum, Flanz, 40, said she talked with Carhartt executives about selling the jeans to them, though those talks failed to pan out. It’s fairly common for fashion designers to buy back old pieces to use for inspiration — in the late Nineties, Levi Strauss & Co. made headlines when it paid $46,532 for a pair of 201-style Levi’s jeans, a predecessor to the 501 style, which dated to the 1880s.

Flanz — the daughter of William Flanz, who served as chairman of Gucci in the early 1990s when it was owned by Investcorp — said she moved to Bozeman three years ago, planning to enroll in a Native American studies program at a local university. Instead, she wound up starting a vintage clothing company, which she calls Kakkoii Mono, a Japanese phrase meaning “cool things.” Her business doesn’t focus on denim, but deals mostly in designer apparel and accessories.Beyond those looking for inspiration for new jeans designs, Flanz said she thought the Carhartts might appeal to a mogul with a taste for the West.

“There’s a lot of people out here who have a lot of money and big houses,” she said. “They like to have unusual early Western pieces on their walls.” — Scott Malone

YMI’s Ad Push

The only thing skimpy about the new ad campaign by moderate junior denim resource YMI Jeanswear is the models’ attire.

A first for the two-year-old Los Angeles line, the $1 million push is intended to build awareness of the YMI brand, said co-owner David Vered. He said the line sells to 3,400 department stores nationwide and competes in the crowded moderate denim market.

The campaign was created by D’Angelo Studios in Los Angeles, which also works with contemporary sportswear brand Hard Tail, and features images of young women wearing the jeans. One spot shows a model on a dry ocean bed with the tail of a reptile at her feet. In another spot, she’s on her knees on a sandy surface revealing the back of her naked torso.

Print ads will hit teen reads Seventeen, Teen Vogue, YM and Teen People in October and will run through December. YMI also placed ads on five billboards in L.A., clustered mostly in the downtown Fashion District and around the Staples Center neighborhood. Vered said the outdoor campaign will expand to New York by spring. — Nola Sarkisian-Miller

Lee Denim Day Eyes $7.5M

Lee Co. is on track to raise about $7.5 million at next week’s Lee National Denim Day, said vice president of marketing Kathy Collins.

“It’s going to be another record-breaker,” she predicted.

The event, in which employees at participating companies pay $5 for the privilege of wearing jeans to work for a day, raises money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which funds research into treatments for and toward an eventual cure for the disease. It was first held in 1996 and has raised $45 million over its history.Collins said 25,500 companies have signed up to participate this year, which she said was a 10 percent increase over last year. Retailers including Kohl’s Corp., J.C. Penney Co. and Goody’s Family Clothing are among the firms participating in the event.

The projected $7.5 million collection just beats out the record of $7.4 million set in 2000. However, it’s below the $8 million target the event’s celebrity spokesman, actor Charlie Sheen, set at an event promoting the day back in June.

“That was Charlie’s personal goal,” said Collins. “I think it may be somewhat in between” the two figures, she added.

Sheen’s goal may also be the result of a friendly rivalry with his former high school classmate, Rob Lowe. The only other male to have been picked for the role, Lowe set the previous $7.4 million record.

A former personal assistant of Sheen’s died of breast cancer, which raised his awareness of the disease.

“She went from diagnosis to death in three months,” Collins said Sheen told her. “It made him feel so helpless.” — S.M.

Mavi Steps It Up

Having grown into a $380 million company worldwide in 13 years, Mavi is taking it up a notch and introducing a line of premium denim that’s set to hit stores in November.

The line will be called Nomad, which evokes the worldly, can’t-seem-to-settle-down feel of the Turkish brand.

“This is for our fashion-forward client,” Laura Klindt, one of the designers of the brand, said in a phone interview from Istanbul, where she was visiting a Mavi wash facility. “This line targets people who are on the pulse of things. Nomad is for people who want to get noticed.”

The Mavi name does not appear on the Nomad products, noted Paul Witt, director of marketing and communications at Mavi.

Each style in the new collection is named after a city: The boot-cut style is named San Francisco, the dark wash is known as the Bangkok and the Barcelona is a low-waisted, straight-leg style.While the regular Mavi line is designed in New York and Istanbul, where the company launched in 1991, the Nomad line will be designed by a collective of people in Italy, Istanbul, the U.S. and the Netherlands. The denim is imported from Japan, Italy and Spain, and the jeans are manufactured in the same facility in Istanbul as the regular Mavi line.

“It makes complete sense that we did premium now,” Klindt said. “The American market now appreciates stepped-up quality. A lot of people have been doing it, so it was long overdue.”

Nomad will wholesale for $69 to $99, whereas Mavi wholesales in the $35 to $45 range.

While the current Mavi line retails in more than 1,000 locations, Nomad will be sold in selected boutiques and department stores.

“We’re not trying to make this a $50 million brand,” said Witt. “We want to align with the right merchants.” — L.D.

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