By  on March 22, 2005

LOS ANGELES — Seven For All Mankind is trying to scale new heights of jean design in a collaboration with Great China Wall.

The partnership is the second for Seven, which worked with Swarovski six months ago to produce a line of limited-edition denim featuring crystal detailing on the back pocket. The line wholesaled for $98 and fetched $20 million in sales, said Rick Crane, Seven’s national sales manager.

“It’s fun to take people who are good at what they do and put them together,” he said. “The pairings can usually deliver the cream of the crop in those respective fields.”

Seven For All Mankind is raising its profile as it seeks to transform its hot jeans business, which pulled in $200 million in sales last year, into a cohesive lifestyle brand. It brought on a financial partner, Bear Stearns Merchant Banking, in a recapitalization deal and has hired a new chief executive officer, Andreas Kurz.

For its latest cobranding effort, Seven looked to Alfredo Settimio, founder and owner of Great China Wall with his wife Nilou Naderi. Their line, which generates about $5 million in sales, is known for its reinterpretation of vintage rock ’n’ roll T-shirts, army pants and sweatshirts  into artier pieces heavily adorned with hand painting, embroidery and ornamentation. Before joining Seven in 2001, Crane was the financial backer and 50 percent partner in Great China Wall when it launched in 1999.

Settimio said reconnecting with his former partner was a way to generate buzz for his label.

“My line is very underground,’’ he said. “I don’t like to do advertising. I don’t like to sell. I just like to make my product, so without changing my ways…I can reach more people.”

Both companies will share billing on the limited-edition collection of 30,000 pieces. The inside waistband label will include both names, as will a hangtag painted with one logo on each side.

The initial pairing yields 10 denim styles in distressed washes along with two denim jackets and an offering of solid and tie-dyed T-shirts popping with crystals. Seven gives Great China Wall the pieces for hand-painting or brass-studded touches in the shapes of paisley swirls and sunbursts on the front panels and pockets of the jeans as well down the legs of the jeans. The handiwork can take three hours to two days per pant, depending on the intensity: Level A for subtle work; Level B for less subtle details and Level C for over-the-top pieces.And it’s not for the financially weak. The line, which ships in June, starts at $135 wholesale for the A grouping and may go up to $443 for the C items.  

Fifty retailers have picked up the line, including Kitson, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s. Crane predicted the venture will pull in $10 million in first-year sales.

“[Settimio is] the most talented man in the world I believe, so if you combine his talent with Seven’s great fit, you have an ideal combination,” said Kitson owner Fraser Ross, which carries Great China Wall and its line of sweatshirts that sell for up to $1,000. “His line separates the men from the boys when it comes to price point.” 

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