European Mode Institute’s annual conference in Berlin was a homecoming of sorts for Andreas Kurz. The Bavarian-born chief executive officer of Seven For All Mankind and Diesel alumnus had the chance to speak about the California jeans boom in his mother tongue, an experience that is not as infrequent as one might think.
After the U.S., Germany is Seven’s second-largest market and is credited with starting the California Blue Rush among German fashion retailers.
While Seven didn’t start the American premium denim movement — that was Earl Jean’s accomplishment in 1996, according to Kurz — “the fit was limited.”
“You had to be a model [to wear them],” he said at the conference, which took place Nov. 4. “Our goal was to develop a better fit, and our mission is to make the not-perfect body look perfect — as far as that’s possible. We’re not in apparel, but body sculpture.”
In just five years, Seven has grown sales to $240 million in 2005 from $13 million, selling to 60 countries, said Kurz. Showing late and delivering early has been a plus in the U.S., but a problem in Europe, where open-to-buys tend to be locked in early in the season.
“It’s a true value that’s not being used and a means of getting something new in the store every month,” Kurz told the audience of German manufacturers and retailers.
While Kurz has faith in the ongoing power of premium denim, noting the significant growth in the luxury jeans segment in the U.S., Seven is branching out.
“The most important rule in moving ahead is ‘listen to the consumer,’” said Kurz. “Seven makes [consumers] feel confident and sexy, thinner and more beautiful, flirty, fun, comfortable, independent. It’s all on an emotional level. It has nothing to do with stitches.”
Men’s wear, now in its second year and contributing about 30 percent of sales, is generating the strongest growth, he noted. Children’s jeans are just getting started, and Seven’s collaborations with other companies and designers like Swarovski, Great China Wall and Zac Posen are picking up steam.Posen’s decorative take on Seven, an exclusive collection for Neiman Marcus, “had about a 50 percent sell-through in the first weekend,” Kurz reported. For spring, there will be a T-shirt collection called More 7, in collaboration with Ron Herman of Fred Segal.
Seven also plans to broaden the brand’s assortment on its own. Kurz said that as of fall 2006, “knits, shirts, pants and jackets for men and women will be offered, and we’re working on licenses for shoes, bags, belts and swimwear, and then fragrance, eyewear, watches and other lifestyle elements.” Asked if this could possibly dilute the brand’s authenticity, he countered that Seven is close to the market.
François Girbaud, of the Marithé + François Girbaud denim and sportswear label, also spoke at the EMI conference on “True Values — Tidings From the Age of Honesty.” In Girbaud’s view, the future of fashion calls for “more fun, more meaning, more values, more sincerity.”
As far as the jeans industry goes, Girbaud called for more environmental responsibility. The father of stonewashing said he is now upset at what distressed treatments and other finishing processes do to the water supply, and explained how the Girbaud Blue Eternal jeans, for example, leave no harmful residues when washed.
Kurz reacted to Girbaud’s call for a “more ethical jeans business,” with the promise, “Andreas wants to help.”
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews