Levi’s Knits Sweater Deal

Levi Strauss & Co. and Hampshire Designers Inc. are expanding their relationship with a license for Levi’s branded women’s sweaters for fall 2005.

Hampshire already produces men’s sweaters under the Dockers and Levi’s brands for the jeans maker.

Design of the new 24-piece cotton and cotton-blend line will be headed by Alexandre Stepaniuk, who also goes by the name Nick Danger and is creative director and vice president of the Levi’s and Nick Danger brands.

The Levi’s line will be shown to stores during the January market and will wholesale for $12.50 to $17.50.

In addition to being styled for “that homespun all-American girl,” Stepaniuk said some of the sweaters also have a sexy, rock ’n’ roll element.

“It has to be authentic, but femmed up,” said Stepaniuk, aka Danger, whose nickname dates from his time in the military.

The line has some argyle and sporty looks, but also leans toward the harder side with a piece that hints at a motorcycle jacket with similar hardware, such as snaps. Not all the looks are straightforward. For instance, there is an argyle sweater that is inside out with exposed seams.

Each of the sweaters coordinates with jeans and features Levi’s signature red tab.

“There’s so much add-on business beyond jeans,” said Michael Culang, president of Hampshire Brands.

Culang projected the initial launch to reach 1,500 to 2,000 stores. Levi’s men’s sweaters are in about 2,000 retail locations.

Market sources indicate wholesale sales of sweaters under the Levi’s and Dockers names would approach $100 million next year. — Evan Clark

Ubi Part Two

Ulrich Conrad Simpson had everything going for him when he launched Ubi Jeans, a men’s premium denim collection, in 1999. Everything, that is, except a financial backer, which led to him closing up shop last year.

Now on sounder financial footing and operating in Latin America, he’s ready to pick up where he left off.

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