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Kentucky Denim Returns With Vintage View

Kentucky Denim Co. is returning to the women's premium denim market for the holiday season under new ownership and a focus on vintage Americana styling.

LOS ANGELES — Kentucky Denim Co. is returning to the women’s premium denim market for the holiday season under new ownership and a focus on vintage Americana styling.

This story first appeared in the October 30, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Los Angeles-based label was launched as a men’s jeans line almost two years ago. Hartmarx Corp., maker of premium denim and contemporary sportswear, acquired parent company Monarchy LLC for $12 million in August 2007. The Kentucky Denim label was then acquired by Herzl Talasazan, who had been an investor in Monarchy.

Now operating as a private company, Kentucky Denim is relaunched in the women’s market with eight jeans styles and a range of T-shirts wholesaling for $68 and $24, respectively. It also added $34 woven shirts, $38 shorts and $68 dresses to the spring collection.

Kentucky Denim’s interpretation of Americana leans toward punky rockabilly. Shorts are cut from striped denim and Western shirts are embellished with gold foil screenprints and lavish embroideries of flowers.

“We just want to go back to the true form, fit and quality of what denim was then but with a modern twist,” said Lourdes Creus, who manages women’s sales. “It’s now come to a point where a lot of denim companies look alike. We just want to differentiate ourselves from the other companies.”

While many retailers who carried the men’s line also picked up the women’s offerings, the women’s business is focusing on specialty boutiques, Creus said. She added the goal is to generate $1 million in wholesale sales in the first year through retailers like So Vain in Phoenix, North of Wednesday in Victoria, British Columbia, Project in Houston and AB Confidence in New York.

Spring looks that appealed to retailers included striped denim cutoff shorts and jeans that were overdyed in a berry tint and then hand-sanded for a distressed look.

Designer Monica Reyes, who previously created private label clothing for Arden B., said Kentucky Denim promoted clean looks for the holiday relaunch. Moving forward, however, it will place more emphasis on fashion denim, she said.

“The reaction from the buyers was they wanted crazier stuff,” she said.