Mudd Gets Curvy With AshantiMudd jeans will offer juniors with curvy figures a new line of affordable but fashionable fits this fall, backed by the company's first celebrity-driven launch campaign.Delicious Curves by Mudd will hit stores such as Filene's, Kohl's, Macy's and Mervyns in November, targeting a portion of the 15- to 24-year-old market that has been overlooked, according to Dick Gilbert, founder and chief executive officer of the New York-based junior line. "We knew there was a huge void at the $38 to $42 price point," said Gilbert.Ashanti, the 24-year-old R&B singer who has signed on to be the face of Delicious, said she is not only a denim lover, but understands how difficult finding the right fit for an affordable price can be."It's always hard for me to find jeans that fit the perfect way without having to get them tailored," said Ashanti.The designs are drastically different from the core Mudd product, according to Gilbert."The point is, it's not big, it's curvy," said Gilbert. Delicious will be available in 18 styles and four to five washes and will feature embellishments such as embroidery, rhinestones and cutouts. Rises will be slightly higher than the core Mudd design and higher in the back, so the jean fits flat against the back, rather than standing upright and producing a gap.Initial response to the line has been strong."We've booked $2 million right out of the box from the August market," said Gilbert. "I believe we'll do between $18 million and $20 million in the next 18 months."Ashanti's endorsement is that of a denim aficionado."I am such a jeans person," said Ashanti, naming True Religion, Marc Jacobs and Diesel as a few of the brands she wears. "I have two closets and one is loaded with jeans. I even had to add extra shelves to hold them all."Fit and price were the standouts of Delicious, said Ashanti."I think one of the most important things is the price point," said Ashanti. "It's affordable and looks hot. It's all about what looks right on you and not having to spend two arms and two legs on a pair of jeans."— Ross TuckerG-Star Celebrates With U.S. PushG-Star, the Amsterdam-based denim and sportswear label, is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the first G-Star store in the U.S. with more openings across the country.New G-Star stores popped up this month in Boston and Chicago. A San Francisco unit is to open Sept. 22, bringing the U.S. store count to five. G-Star opened in New York in July 2004 and Los Angeles last October.There are 38 G-Star stores in 18 countries. G-Star will open stores in California's Orange County in February, and in Dallas and the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., next August.The collection is about 60 percent bottoms, 40 percent tops, and is consistent in every store."The collection contains about 1,500 pieces," said Deepak Gayadin, North American manager of the brand. "We have basics that come back every season, but we also bring in something new every season."In America, as in Europe, there are 12 deliveries a year."The whole system of G-Star is based on getting fresh product delivered every month," Gayadin said.In Europe, up until six years ago, Gayadin said there were deliveries in just January and July."The sell-throughs weren't tremendous," he said. "After two months, the staff saw the same product hanging in the stores and they weren't energetic in selling it. Then we switched to 12 deliveries and the sell-throughs were unbelievable."Gayadin said the brand has a 40 percent annual wholesale volume growth rate worldwide. He expects the wholesale volume this year to reach $500 million globally, with about $35 million, in wholesale, coming from the U.S. Wholesale prices for the collection range from $69 to $150 for denim bottoms. All manufacturing is done in Amsterdam.Next month, G-Star will move its Manhattan-based North American headquarters from a 2,500-square-foot Meatpacking District office to a 10,000-square-foot space on the 11th floor of 599 Broadway, just north of Houston Street. The office will be renovated so that it reflects the same industrial aesthetic as the G-Star stores. The look will be achieved with oak, glass and metal surfaces."We use a lot of organic styles," Gayadin said. "We're trying to give a clear look to the consumer."— Lauren DeCarloJ. Crew's Classic ApproachIn the push to integrate a more luxe aesthetic to the brand, the designers behind J. Crew have launched a premium denim collection for fall."We've been evaluating the quality across the board," said Jenna Lyons, senior vice president of women's design. "It's been a natural progression. It has taken so long because there is so much competition in the marketplace, but we had to do it in the J. Crew way."The "J. Crew way" is to focus on clean, classic cuts and washes. The premium collection will offer the same bodies as the existing collection, but in fabrics such as Japanese and Italian denim. Styles include a hip-slung, a boot cut, a boy cut and an ultra-low cut. Each body is available in six to eight washes."We wanted to look more old school, more classic," Lyons said. "The washes are clean and the look is very natural and not so fashiony."The premium denim collection began shipping this month and the full collection is slated to be in stores by November. Retail prices for the premium denim range from $115 to $275. The retail price range of the non-premium denim collection ranges between $78 and $98.The two collections won't have any different back-pocket logos or hangtags. Instead, Lyons said, salespeople will be responsible for educating consumers on the difference between the two lines."As far as the difference of the jeans is concerned, you can see it in the quality of the denim," she added. "We are one of those companies that don't like to scream anything."— L.D.XOXO Adds Premium and PlusContemporary brand XOXO is launching its first premium denim collection and plus sizes for fall."This collection will feature better fabrics and multiprocessed washes," said Cindy Lang, design director for XOXO premium denim.The fall introductory collection will include a skinny style, a boy-cut number and a traditional boot leg, but the collection gets a boost, Lang said, from embellishments such as vintage rhinestones and studs. The premium collection will be identifiable by a red metallic XOXO label on the back pocket. The retail price range of the collection is $69 to $99.Some key looks include the Lauren, a loose, low-waisted boy-cut style with lace trim around the top of the waistband. "It's very soft and slouchy," Lang said. The Ashley, named for Lang's daughter, is a skinny leg. "It's very sexy and flattering," Lang noted. The Nicolette is the boot-leg style.The collection, which will also include premium denim skirts, blazers and jackets, will be distributed at Macy's and Burdines department stores nationwide, in addition to select specialty stores and is also launching plus-size denim in the main line and premium denim collection. For fall, sizes will range from 14 to 22 on bottoms and 1X to 3X for nondenim tops."For the plus sizes in denim, we're really focusing on the product," Lang said. "We just want to offer our customer some newness."The plus-size collection will be available at Federated department stores, and— L.D.

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