NEW YORK — A key growth sector during the recent boom years for the denim market was high-end contemporary denim, with retail prices exceeding $100.

Some of the companies that enjoyed the growth of recent years are now moving to strengthen their positions and broaden their businesses.

To that end, Los Angeles-based Blue Cult in October named Tara Narayan as marketing director. Formerly of Gap, Narayan plans to boost the brand’s marketing, rolling out a Web site and look book within the next year. Also on the agenda for next year is a plan to set up a network of distribution in Europe. According to Caroline Athias, co-founder of the three-year-old brand, the company will open an office in Switzerland.

“Switzerland is very easy and central for the rest of Europe,” she said. “This way we can do business in Germany, Italy and in France, where a strong denim market already exists.”

After a shaky time period following the exit of the company’s founding designer, Jerome Dahan, Seven For All Mankind is expecting a positive first quarter next year.

“No one really cut back on us, but I do think people were a bit skeptical placing orders last year,” said Jennifer Highman, national sales manager for the brand. “Now they know they can trust us, so next year is looking to be our best yet. The first-quarter bookings for next year are not only bigger than they were last year, but they are also bigger than what we had planned.”

Highman said next year the company is rolling out a style called the Flint. It is a combination of the two best-selling styles, the bootcut with a contour waistline. She said the jeans are only slightly distressed looking as far as wash is concerned. Highman said the company is on track to bring in more than $100 million next year.

The Los Angeles-based Chip & Pepper line also plans on seeing a shift toward cleaner, vintage-looking denim, according to twin brothers and founders Chip and Pepper Foster.

“We are staying true to our passion,” Pepper Foster said. “That is to create vintage-looking jeans with a great fit for the American market. A lot of denim companies buy their denim from mills in Japan or in Europe, but ours is 100 percent American.”Also extending its mix of basic high-end jeans is Red Engine, another Los Angeles-based denim firm. Owner Jim Boldes said cropped capris and stretch twill pants in an array of spring colors have sold well for his firm. While he said he has added a few new fashion-driven pieces, Boldes said it will never override the basics.

“We really have become known for our basics and I expect that to continue,” he said. “It’s a niche that we have found and adding a few fashion pieces here and there is just a natural progression for us.”

Also on the agenda is a lower-priced line of basic jeans that is testing in stores right now. With average wholesale prices of $33 and a retail range from $65 to $75, Boldes said the line carries the Farm Girl label right now, but he may change the name next year.

Western Glove is also introducing new lines. Silver said the company next year aims to build the Aiiro line that it quietly rolled out this year. That line, which he said takes its name from the Japanese word for “blue,” wholesales $16 to $19, for targeted retail prices on jeans of below $50. That’s slightly less than the main Silver line, which wholesales for $24 to $30. The company also has a high-end line called 1921 that wholesales for $55 to $70.

Also testing a slightly lower-end line is Evisu. The brand, which began its push into the U.S. market two years ago, is now testing a small line of jeans that retail at about $200. Although still a high-ticket price compared with other lines, most Evisu jeans sell for about $325 at retail.

“We hope that once we get our new lower price point line off the ground, our women’s business will grow significantly,” said Vince Gonzales, vice president of Evisu. “Ideally we would like the jeans to retail at under $200, but that can be difficult since we don’t want to sacrifice the detailing and expensive fabrics we use.”

To access this article, click here to subscribe or to log in.

To Read the Full Article
SUBSCRIBE NOW

Tap into our Global Network

Of Industry Leaders and Designers

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus