Denim Dish: J. Crew’s Art Project … Chip & Pepper Embracing New York State of Mind … Guess Posts Double-Digit Gains in Third Quarter

J. Crew has collaborated with New York's Parsons The New School for Design and Fashion Institute of Technology on a limited-edition collection of premium denim.

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J. Crew’s Art Project
J. Crew has collaborated with New York’s Parsons The New School for Design and Fashion Institute of Technology on a limited-edition collection of premium denim. The collection, 82 pairs in total, includes one-of-a-kind, customized pieces.

“We wanted to do something new and exciting that captured the vibe and personality of J. Crew,” said Cynthia Ng, director of denim and washed product.

The four graduates of the design schools who worked on the collection are Julia Burns, Sariah Carson, Jennifer Manko and James Boone. Roula Nassar, a freelance designer with J. Crew, also collaborated. With the help of Ng and Jenna Lyons, senior vice president of women’s design, the designers transformed the 82 pairs of the American-made, ring-spun five-pocket style into their own creation. Styles have been embroidered, bleached or speckled with blue paint.

“They’re all individual,” said Ng. “We talked about our ideas and we sat together and guided them through the process. Some have embroidery, some have crystal beading. One pair of jeans has about four or five layers to it. We quickly found out people’s strengths.”

The jeans will retail at select J. Crew locations for $275. A small rollout began in October, but the bulk of the jeans will hit stores in January.

“Lots of work went into this project,” said Lyons. “We’re a large company and we’ve wanted to maintain a sense of individuality and craftsmanship. We’ll do what we can to freshen up. It’s paid off. The customer gets something that’s unique that you’re not going to see somewhere else.”
— L.D.

Chip & Pepper Embracing New York State of Mind
Chip and Pepper Foster, the twin brothers who design the Chip & Pepper premium denim collection, are opening their first flagship boutique in a 700-square-foot space in lower Manhattan.

The store, which is set to debut on Nov. 25, is at 250 Mulberry Street, between Prince and Spring Streets in the NoLIta district.

“The location is unbelievable,” Chip Foster said. “It took us almost a year to choose a spot.”

This story first appeared in the November 3, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The designers said they settled on NoLIta because they didn’t want the location of their first freestanding shop to affect sales at stores where the collection is already distributed. That is one reason the Los Angeles-based twins didn’t open in Manhattan’s hot Meatpacking District.

“There are great stores that we do business with already in that area and we wouldn’t want to jeopardize our business there,” Pepper Foster said.

When it came to deciding between New York and Los Angeles, the choice was obvious.

“New York is the fashion mecca,” Pepper Foster said. “It’s important to be there.”

This isn’t the Fosters’ first venture into retail. In 1994, they opened the Golf Punk boutique on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, where they sell rare and vintage denim and T-shirts. The NoLIta shop, however, will carry the full Chip & Pepper collection, which includes a range of denim styles, as well as the brand’s full line of T-shirts, knitwear, twills, outerwear and hats. It will also house C&P University, the brand’s line of T-shirts, knitwear, twills and outerwear that incorporates vintage and original logos from universities around the U.S.

In 2006, the Chip & Pepper store will also feature a custom denim bar.

“If customers want copper rivets, they can have it,” Pepper Foster said. “They can have the entire Chip & Pepper experience.”

The interior of the store is meant to be reminiscent of the log cabin in Lake of the Woods in Ontario, where the twins spent their childhood summers.

“It’s so beautiful, but very simple,” Chip Foster said.

“A lot of the washes we do, too, follow that trend,” his brother added. “It all comes together from growing up around that lake. We’ve definitely come full circle.”
— Lauren DeCarlo

Guess Posts Double-Digit Gains in Third Quarter
NEW YORK — Guess Inc. reported a 75 percent jump in third-quarter net earnings on revenues that rose 34.3 percent as consumers responded favorably to the retailer’s product mix.

In the three months ended Oct. 1, the company earned $20.7 million, or 46 cents a diluted share, including a $4.6 million compensation expense related to contributions of the company’s licensing business to operations. Results in the quarter compared with a profit of $11.8 million, or 27 cents, in the year-earlier period. Analysts had been calling for a profit of 37 cents in the latest third quarter.

Total revenues were $265.6 million versus $197.8 million a year ago, while same-store sales were up 8 percent. Product sales in the quarter rose 37.1 percent to $251.7 million, while net royalties in the licensing segment were $13.9 million, down 2.7 percent.

The company said retail stores in the U.S. and Canada saw sales rise 18.3 percent to $156.3 million. In the wholesale segment, however, revenues fell 9.3 percent to $31 million.

“Our inventories continue to be clean and this has contributed to substantially increased margins in our retail and wholesale segments,” said Paul Marciano, co-chairman and co-chief executive officer of Guess, in a statement. He also cited strong results in the company’s European business, where sales rose to $64.4 million from $17.3 million a year ago, thanks in part to the acquisition of its European jeanswear licensee in January.

In the nine-month period, net earnings totaled $33 million, or 74 cents, compared with $14.7 million, or 33 cents, in the same period a year ago. Net revenues swelled 30.5 percent to $659.4 million versus $505.3 million last year.

Guess said same-store sales in October rose 12.3 percent while total sales in the four weeks were $45.5 million, up 22.4 percent.

Los Angeles-based Guess operates 305 retail stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Shares of the company closed up 19 cents at $28 in Wednesday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
— Meredith Derby

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