Lessons in Gene Therapy
As new denim brands sprout up boasting the latest trends and embellishments, one brand aims to take denim back to its roots.

"People have forgotten the true essence of denim," said Ali Fatourechi, creative director of Genetic Denim, slated to launch for holiday. "Jeans are timeless, something you can wear day in and day out."

A pair of jeans, to hear Fatourechi tell it, is only as good as the first three inches — the waistband to the upper tip of the pocket.

"This area can be the most appealing or the most unappealing," said Fatourechi, noting that Genetic jeans have a bit of stretch, so that over time they conform to the body and fit as they should without gaping or bunching up.

Fatourechi perfected the fit of Genetic over the past two years while he was working for Universal Denim, a denim marketing and branding company. He would visit college campuses with a number of the leading premium denim brands and collect feedback from more than 20,000 women on their likes and dislikes when it came to fit and washes.

"I thought, ‘Why am I doing marketing and branding for other companies when I could just make my own jeans?'" Fatourechi asked rhetorically.

So he joined forces with Shaun Hurley, Genetic's president of sales, and Scott Sartiano, president of branding and marketing. At the core of Genetic was the idea that, like genes, jeans should be passed from generation to generation. The tag line for Genetic Denim is "It's all in your genes."

The Genetic collection features four styles in three to five washes ranging from a raw denim to black to a light blue. The styles are broken down into three classifications, Recessive, Dominant and Mutated, which contain styles like a basic five-pocket, flared, skinny and flap-pocket. The brand's logo, a double helix, is stitched on the pockets and the back waistband. The wholesale price range of the collection is $85 to $90.

The collection will be available at specialty boutiques such as Atrium and Intermix in New York, and Fred Segal and Ron Herman in Los Angeles."We're going to keep it in the best boutiques," said Hurley, who predicted the volume of the collection would reach $15 million in 2006. A nondenim collection is expected to follow, as well as a fashion show in February.

Fatourechi, Hurley and Sartiano were hosts at a Genetic launch party at Sartiano's restaurant-cum-nightclub, Butter, in Manhattan's East Village. Friends of the trio, such as Kelly Osbourne, Lindsay Lohan and Nicky Hilton, were at the party, and Paris Hilton and Bridget Hall were sporting their own pairs of Genetic.

"We're the next generation," Hurley said.
— Lauren DeCarlo

Getting Good Ink
If Joe Faris and Mike Jeziak have their way, Detroit will be known as the focus of cool fashion, as well as the home of hot wheels.

Faris and Jeziak are the founders of Inkslingers, a clothing label named after the five-store tattoo business that Jeziak heads in East Point, Mich.

Faris, who worked for apparel companies ranging from Bugle Boy and Donna Karan to Ralph Lauren and Pelle Pelle, and Jeziak, who said his studios have done more than 500,000 tattoos, represent the latest collaboration between clothing designers and tattoo artists.

Jeziak said competition from the growing circle of tattoo-inspired labels will help Inkslingers, and success will depend on how well the company uses its history and design expertise to make the clothes stand out.

Faris and Jeziak first got together in Las Vegas in August 2003, when Jeziak walked by the MAGIC booth that Faris was running for Nero Jeans, his contemporary label focusing on men's wear such as shirts with French cuffs. Drawn to a leather jacket decorated with a dragon painting on the back, Jeziak introduced himself to Faris.

Jeziak was interested in getting a clothing license for his tattoo business. Faris was developing a leather that was soft enough to absorb the ink from an electric tattoo needle. They eventually signed a licensing agreement last February, and Faris began designing the line a month later.

For the women's category, Faris created jeans, cotton T-shirts with tattooed sleeves, tube tops in velour fleece, leather boleros and other items. Wholesale prices run from $32 to $60 for velour fleece, $35 to $75 for Ts and $65 to $110 for jeans. Leather pieces start at $150 for wholesale.In August, two years after he met Jeziak, Faris showed Inkslingers' inaugural holiday collection at the MAGIC and Project Global trade shows in Las Vegas. Faris said Inkslingers wrote about $300,000 in orders from stores such as Shy Studios and Blue Berry in South Beach, Fla., Up Against the Wall in Washington and The Lounge in Manhattan.

Tina Setia, women's buyer for The Lounge, said Inkslingers' rock 'n' roll vibe will suit her downtown shop, which carries other tattoo-inspired labels such as Ed Hardy and Sleeves. She said whether it's embroidery, paint or tattoo work, her customers want a lot of embellishment. What struck her about the jeans and denim capris she bought was the oversized rhinestone-encrusted copper rivets that covered the area from the waistband to the front to the back pockets.

"It's a departure from your regular denim," she said.
— Khanh T.L. Tran

Italy Gets New Stars
From the Netherlands to Italy, for G-Star Raw it's all about "one global, unfiltered image," said Philip Truyen, export manager of the company, which last week opened its first two Italian brand stores, in Milan and Rome.

"We keep our focus on denim and we export our store concept around the world," Truyen said.

Launched 15 years ago, G-Star Raw has reached sales of $540 million and worldwide distribution. Although the brand has been available in Italy for eight years at 550 points of sale, Truyen said, "This was the right moment to open our own stores here. The market is mature."

In Milan, the two-level store covering almost 2,000 square feet is modeled after the company's other brand stores around the world, where polished metal shelves contrast with leather details and untreated, natural oak floors. The store is projected to generate sales of $1.8 million and $2.4 million in two years.

Federico Costa, the company's manager for Italy, said he was pleased with the Via San Pietro all'Orto location a few steps from Milan's cathedral, the central Corso Vittorio Emanuele, and just off the luxury shopping area around Via Montenapoleone.

"The other district we were considering was Corso di Porta Ticinese [the newly revamped, hip shopping area for young brands], but the spaces were not big enough for us there," Costa said. "Also, here we cater to teens and professionals in their 40s alike."Costa said he insists on leaving a large selection of jeans in full view and easily touchable on a metal and leather display in front of the denim wall. A corner is dedicated to the collection created by product designer Marc Newson and inspired by industrial workwear. Another corner of the store features handmade sartorial pieces retailing at about 250 euros, or $300 at current exchange rate. Generally, the G-Star Raw collection retails at 110 euros to 200 euros, or $132 to $240.

Denim, which is produced in Italy, accounts for 60 percent of sales.

"Italy has the best level of production," Truyen said. "It's not cheap, but the expertise is unique."

The men's collection accounts for 70 percent of sales.

To mark the opening of the stores, the company sent models around Milan and Rome wearing Elvis Presley-like suits or 18th-century pouf dresses made with raw denim.

"We always do this," Truyen added. "It's part of what we call our guerrilla campaign, a tongue-in-cheek way to advertise our openings."
— Luisa Zargani

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