By  on July 10, 2007

NEW YORK — Global denim fabric powerhouse Tavex Group will open a new sales office and service center here next week that it hopes will be the platform for expansion in the U.S. market.

The new office and showroom, on Spring Street in SoHo, will be unveiled at a grand opening party on July 19.

Jake Fraser, a 25-year denim industry veteran, joined Tavex in December as director of sales and marketing for North and Central America. Tavex is looking to beef up its presence in the U.S. and position itself as a reliable Western Hemisphere sourcing alternative, Fraser said.

Tavex, based in Madrid, was formed last year with the merger of Santista Textil, Latin America's biggest denim maker, and Tavex Algodonera, Europe's largest denim manufacturer. Although the European arm is long established, Fraser said the company had been underrepresented in the U.S.

Fraser acknowledged that sourcing fabric in the Western Hemisphere had presented challenges to brands and retailers. Tavex hopes to take better advantage of the proximity of Latin American countries and the benefits available under trade programs such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

"Mexico has not done this well, so we're trying to fill the void," Fraser said.

Tavex has made substantial investments in Mexico and Latin America to establish facilities and introduce state-of-the-art equipment. Fraser said the company had purchased facilities in Mexico capable of producing 30 million linear square meters of denim a year. In addition, it has purchased land in Honduras on which it plans to build another facility over the next two to three years.

"We've got two great corporations that have merged together in the denim business and are coming to America," Fraser said. "We're positioning ourselves to be a reliable alternative to some of the options [brands] in this hemisphere."

Fraser and his North American team have rushed to put together their first denim fabric collection for fall 2008.

"What we've tried to do is, first of all, show the capabilities, to show all the things we can do with a piece of denim using current trends," he said. "For this first collection, we're trying to bring a credible collection that you can sink your teeth into. It's something we can use to begin the dialogue of where we can go from here."Fraser described the SoHo showroom as Tavex's "hub."

"The designers of the world, when they show New York, they obviously come through SoHo," he said.

The company intends to evolve into a full-package provider over the next couple of years, as well, in response to growing demand from brands.

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