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Chip & Pepper Launch Mill Iron Line

The $100 price point for a premium jean is, I think, a magic number,” said Chip Foster. “The way the economy is, people are looking for quality and price.”

LOS ANGELES — Chip and Pepper Foster are spinning off another extension to their namesake premium denim company.

This story first appeared in the July 2, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The designing twins are launching a moderately priced brand called Mill Iron exclusively at teen retailer The Buckle on July 10. Retailing from $98 to $110, Mill Iron will offer two men’s styles in the inaugural fall collection: a relaxed leg with a button fly and a relaxed five-pocket straight leg with a zipper fly. The vintage-inspired details include black coating on vintage nickel trim and washes that evoke a cowboy’s life, with names such as “Buffalo Jump,” a dark blue style with tacking.

Next spring, Mill Iron will move into the women’s market with skinny styles accentuated with ankle zippers, legging jeans and boot-cuts. After The Buckle’s exclusive one-season deal ends, the Fosters plan to expand distribution of Mill Iron selectively to their network of retailers, including Fred Segal, Bloomingdale’s and Atrium.

“The $100 price point for a premium jean is, I think, a magic number,” said Chip Foster. “The way the economy is, people are looking for quality and price.”

Mill Iron joins a growing portfolio of subbrands for the Canadian-born brothers, who founded Chip & Pepper in Los Angeles six years ago. In addition to the flagship line, which retails for $165 to $355, there is Chip & Pepper University, a high-end T-shirt line that incorporates logos from more than 75 universities around the country. In collaboration with J.C. Penney, the Fosters also produce C7P, a surf-inspired juniors line of denim and sportswear sold exclusively at the department store, and Foster Jeans, a women’s plus-size jeans line also sold at Penney’s. Foster didn’t disclose an estimate for first-year sales of Mill Iron, which will be made in Los Angeles at the same factories that manufacture Chip & Pepper.

Mill Iron represents the premium denim industry’s latest effort to reach out to budget-conscious shoppers in the middle of a global recession. This past spring, Culver City, Calif.-based Rock & Republic began selling the Recession Collection, a limited edition group of minimally embellished jeans retailing for 22 percent less than its main line. Other labels, ranging from Dylan George to Kasil, have lowered their prices in the past year.