By  on November 19, 2007

NEW YORK — A year and a half ago, Paul Guez, chairman of Blue Holdings, was riding the denim trend for all it was worth. His trendy Antik Denim and Taverniti So brands were in high demand, he announced plans to acquire the 24-door Up Against The Wall retail chain and promised to nearly triple its size, and he celebrated the company’s listing on the Nasdaq exchange by ringing the opening bell at its headquarters in Times Square.

Since then, however, the business fortunes of L.A.-based Blue Holdings have taken a swift turn for the worse—illustrating the challenges of navigating a maturing premium denim market in which a few top brands have consolidated their positions. Blue Holdings’ deal for Up Against The Wall fell apart as the denim maker could not raise financing. More urgently, Blue Holdings’ sales and earnings—along with its stock price—have tumbled badly in the past year, due to poor product assortments, late deliveries and cleaner jeans trends that overtook Antik Denim’s heavily embellished styles.

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