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Denim Dish: Wrangling Wendy

When Wrangler Western Wear set out to woo the designer Wendy Mullin for its fall 2004 line, it had an unusual hurdle to overcome — executives at the company had to convince her that they weren’t pulling her leg.<BR><BR>After all,...

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When Wrangler Western Wear set out to woo the designer Wendy Mullin for its fall 2004 line, it had an unusual hurdle to overcome — executives at the company had to convince her that they weren’t pulling her leg.

After all, it’s not like she had submitted a résumé. However, Mullin, of the New York-based Built by Wendy line, had said in the October 2002 issue of Jane magazine that if she had to pick a new label to design for, she’d pick Wrangler.

Reading that set Phil McAdams, president of VF Corp.’s Wrangler Western Wear division, to thinking, so he called the designer.

“I thought it was a joke so I blew them off for a while,” Mullin admitted. “They kept calling and calling. I thought it was so weird…They said they were curious about my ideas.”

By September 2003, they connected and the new Wrangler line was on the way. Mullin’s line for Wrangler, which will carry a new and modern take on the traditional Wrangler logo, aims to invigorate vintage Wrangler looks while preserving the brand’s Western heritage. The collection of men’s and women’s styles, presented by New York’s Steven Alan Showroom, will be sold at upscale retailers nationwide beginning in fall 2004.

“You can’t help but catch some of Wendy’s excitement for this project — and that’s refreshing,” McAdams said. “We are impressed with how well the Wrangler brand’s Americana heritage and spirit are reflected in these new styles, and we have every reason to think this fashion-savvy consumer will respond positively.”

The men’s product will be unveiled during market week this month. The women’s line, which launches in February, will include knee-length skirts, miniskirts, low-rise boot-cut jeans, regular-waist straight-leg jeans, wide-leg patch-pocket trousers, zip-front jean jackets, sport jackets, Western-inspired shirts, ruffle-front tunic tops and novelty T-shirts.

Jeans wholesale from $40 to $45, shirts $30 to $35 and jackets from $50 to $65. That puts the collection’s prices at more than double those of the main Wrangler line, where jeans wholesale for less than $20.

To reinvigorate classic styles, the 1947 trademark patch is updated with a modern, clean feel, while all-new leather patches, copper rivets and copper buttons — imprinted with the brand’s “W” — copper metallic hangtags, sewn-in labels and flag labels give the line a new look.

“Working with the Wrangler brand has been phenomenal,” Mullin said. “The brand’s authenticity and inherent coolness really come through in the new line. Now people can have those kick-ass Wrangler Cowboy Cut jeans and that classic pleated, zip-front jean jacket that, until now, could only be found in thrift stores.”

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