Penguin Plunges Into Jeans

Original Penguin, known for its logo polo shirts, is rolling out a jeans line for fall retailing.

“Our products look so good with denim that we thought there was a really good opportunity to enter into this market,” said Chris Kolbe, vice president of Original Penguin.

The collection will include three basic fits of jeans: Classic boot cut, straight leg and low rise. The wholesale prices range from $60 to $75. The collection will retail at specialty boutiques and better department stores.

Since Original Penguin’s sportswear collection includes key pieces such as polo shirts, Kolbe said it was always a priority to keep the denim as clean as possible.

“We wanted our denim finishes to be cleaner, so they’re not heavily processed,” Kolbe said. “We also use high-quality Japanese or Italian mills and do all the cutting and sewing here in the U.S.”

There are four washes in the collection, which range from a basic rinse to a medium wash with a hint of discoloration, as well as a dark wash.

“The darker wash stays true to what we’re about,” Kolbe said. “We try not to overprocess.”

Kolbe said he expects the wholesale volume of the women’s denim collection to reach $1.5 million to $2 million. The line will be unveiled at the Fashion Coterie in New York later this month. — Lauren DeCarlo

Mo’ Maurice

Maurice Malone wants to appeal to a broader range of women.

The streetwear designer is getting ready to unveil a jeans line called Moemos for fall retailing.

“The Moemos collection is what I’d like to call urban contemporary because of the price point and clean, yet sporty direction,” Malone said.

The jeans are intended to appeal to contemporary shoppers who appreciate a better quality and authenticity in jeans. Malone worked to produce a natural-looking style of jeans, one with texture and a “wrinkly look where wrinkles normally would be in jeans.”

In terms of fit, Malone said, “The jeans from my Maurice Malone collection have a more European fit, while Moemos are intended to fit the average woman,” Malone added.The collection includes jeans wholesaling from $45 to $65, knit dresses and T-shirts. Irving Glazer, the sales representative for the New York-based line, said Malone has “toned the style of the jeans down, developing a more mature designed, nicely trimmed and not baggy.” Bagginess was a feature of some of his early ventures in denim.

Malone said he got the idea for the line after receiving e-mails from shoppers who liked the look of his jeans, but not the fit.

Glazer estimated the new line would do at least $2 million in sales its first year. — Cathy Finkler

Spring Is in the Ads

The creative minds at French Connection thought everyone could use a dose of optimism in the next few months. That comes in the form of a new spring and summer advertising campaign.

“What is the one thing that everyone is going to want this summer?” asked Matthew Griffiths, head of marketing for the brand globally, based in London. “Positivity. Right now, it’s dark at 4 p.m. and there’s nothing but bad news all the time. We just wanted something a bit more positive than that.”

The ads, shot by photographer Martin Wonnacott, feature landscapes constructed from French Connection clothing, accessories and shoes. “Most other companies have ads with models draped in clothing,” said Griffiths. “We wanted to show the products in an unusual way. From a distance, they look like beautiful summer landscapes, but as you get closer, you realize it’s a skirt or a flying pair of shoes.”

The ads will break in March magazines such as FHM, Lucky and In Style. They will also be seen on billboards, bus backs, and mallscapes in select cities throughout the U.S. The landscapes will also be interpreted in French Connection store windows. — L.D.

Plain Blue Wrapper

The roughly 30,000 subscribers to the German men’s magazine Max got a clear hint about the February issue’s special focus when they opened their mailboxes. The magazine came wrapped in a denim envelope, produced by the jeans manufacturer Mustang.In addition to a series of features where German celebrities talked about their jeans, the magazine included an 18-page advertorial insert from Mustang called “True Jeans True Stories” that featured interviews about jeans with 10 randomly selected Germans. — Melissa Drier

Souped-Up Silver

Michael Silver’s latest product spin-off got started in an unusual way.

He was at a party in Japan to promote his company’s 1921 jeans line when he complimented an attendee on the jeans he had customized. Takuto Mochizuki thanked him and told him they were Silver jeans, made by Silver’s company.

“He didn’t recognize them because of the way they had been customized,” said Allen Kemp, design director for the Winnipeg, Manitoba-based company.

The jeans had been cut and resewn to have additional panels. Silver liked the look, and after the November 2003 party had a series of meetings with Mochizuki, a teenager who was gaining renown as a street artist. Mochizuki, who works under the name Taku, was also skilled in rebuilding and customizing jeans, a trend among Japanese jeans fans.

This year, Silver has started offering customized 1921 jeans through a retail promotion program, said Kemp. Initially the company is selling single redesigned jeans to retailers with the idea being that consumers who are interested in customized jeans can pick a pair of off-the-rack 1921 jeans that normally retail for around $120 to $200, find a pair that fits and have them sent to Tokyo, where Mochizuki customizes them. The customized jeans wholesale for $250 to $300, with a suggested retail price of around $500, Kemp said.

In addition to slicing and stitching, the jeans can feature additional sanding, griding and paint. Kemp said the company can turn around the typical custom order in two to four weeks.

The pitch, Kemp said, is that the jeans will be one of a kind.

“Every piece is slightly different, no pieces are identical,” he said, an option that could appeal to shoppers who “don’t want to see themselves walking down the street.”

The company rolled out the program in Europe in the fall, where it has shipped about 48 pieces so far. Kemp acknowledged the program will likely do limited volume.Mochizuki is expected to make an appearance at next week’s MAGIC show in Las Vegas. — Scott Malone

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