By  on February 9, 2005

LOS ANGELES — Peter Kim is affectionately known as “hype man” at his family business, Protrend Inc., maker of the Hudson jeans contemporary label and Drunknmunky streetwear.

Kim, 34, chief executive officer of the company, has worked the celebrity angle to promote Hudson jeans and the club circuit to boost Drunknmunky. Now, he said, is the time to apply those marketing skills to Protrend’s moderate misses’ lines, Nicola and E.K. Trends.

“Branding has been missing from the misses’ business and there’s no reason why we can’t apply some guerrilla marketing tactics to it,” Kim said in an interview.

To help push the labels to the next level, Kim about three weeks ago hired Dennis Ammon to be president of Nicola and E.K. Trends. Ammon’s arrival marks the first time that Protrend, founded 26 years ago by Kim’s parents, Sang Hoon Kim and Eunice Kim, has brought in an outsider to run the misses’ division.

“We’re seeing stronger interest in the labels now and the time was right to more heavily pursue the business,” Peter Kim said.

With the elimination of global textile and apparel quotas on Jan. 1, a number of moderate brands face stiff competition from China, which is expected to ramp up its apparel exports of cheaper-priced goods.

“We want to get big and get big fast,” Ammon said. How big? The goal is to boost the $15 million category to $50 million to $60 million in three years.

Kim said Ammon, former president of Los Angeles-based moderate manufacturer Impressions, which is no longer in business, brings a strategic level of expertise that was missing from Nicola and E.K. Trends. The labels offered retailers an unedited assortment of clothing, often covering a spectrum of fabrics and styles without conveying a firm style statement.

“He’s firing one focused shot from a rifle, while we were spraying the market with a machine gun,” Kim said.

Ammon’s approach is to concentrate on what Nicola and E.K. Trends do best — twinsets, pleated designs and lace fabrications that can service both career and casual needs. The goal is to offer fashion dressing for the misses’ customer, who is aware and hungry for trends but not over-the-top looks, at moderate price points of $7 to $15 wholesale.

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