By  on February 9, 1994

LOS ANGELES -- With a new type of denim for its basic jeans and a new group of upper-level executives in place, Guess Inc. gathered its international licensees and distributors for a meeting here Monday to outline the course for global expansion over the next few years.

"We're telling them where we're going," said Maurice Marciano, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our plan now is to be a global brand. That's why we want the product to be very consistent in every market."

Among Guess's recent global moves are signing a major licensing deal with the Japanese firm Itochu to oversee licensing and manufacture of Guess brands in Japan.

Further stretching horizons, Paul Marciano, Guess president, said the firm's Korean licensee, Il Kyung, has plans to open two Guess boutiques in Vietnam.

Guess has also recently completed construction of a design studio and distribution center in Florence that will be overseen by the firm's offices here rather than by a distributor. Although Europe might not be growing as rapidly as the Asian economies, Maurice Marciano noted, "Europe is so important to us as far as image that we want to make sure everything is absolutely perfect."

In another major development, Maurice Marciano told WWD that Guess is recalling all its basic product and replacing it with new basics made from a new denim. Over the past year, there had been no progression in the core product and "basic sales had slowed down," he said.

"We have completely changed all our basic jeans fabric," he said. "It's a much more constructed denim, using finer yarns and a washing process using no or very little bleach and more stone washing."

The result, which he said will be priced at the same level as current Guess product, will be a much softer hand. All the packaging will be changed as well, he noted. The project got under way in January, he said.

The old inventory will be disposed of through Guess's 40 factory stores or through sales in countries such as Poland, Marciano said. The change was necessary, he felt, because there had been no progression in Guess's basic denim program since he left the firm in July 1992 to explore other ventures, including a stint heading Pepe Jeans with Silas Chou and Laurence Stroll. Marciano returned to Guess last August, with the departure of Georges Marciano, who left as chairman and ceo, selling his interest in his firm to his three brothers -- Armand, Maurice and Paul.

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