Lyle “Dean” Foreman, a denim-wash pioneer who worked with leading brands such as Guess, True Religion, J Brand and Bongo at seven laundries in the U.S. and Mexico over the past three decades, has died after a long battle with congestive heart disease. He was 70.
Known to many as “the big guy” who made his mark in the industry with acid-washed jeans, Foreman opened his first laundry, Final Finish in El Paso in the Eighties. He also owned five wash houses in Los Angeles: Continental Colors, ACCW, Garment Industry Laundry, Garment Industry Laundry 2 and Dirty Laundry. Following the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in the Nineties, he closed his L.A. facilities and opened Continental Colors in Aguascalientes, Mexico, which was in operation until 2000. He then reopened Garment Industry Laundry, which now handles denim washes for Ever, Helmut Lang, Theory, Civilianaire and other fashion brands. His wife, Sheila Foreman, who oversaw product development and customer service at Garment Industry Laundry while he managed finances, will continue operating Garment Industry Laundry, which employs about 400 people.
“He built the plants, I built the product,” Sheila Foreman said. “He was an integral part of the development of ‘premium’ denim as we know it today.”
One of Dean Foreman’s long-standing customers was Gene Montesano, who first collaborated with Foreman in the late Eighties and entrusted the products for his various brands, including Bongo, Ever, Civilianaire and Capital Tailors.
“He was a straight shooter and his word was his bond,” Montesano said. “He lived every day to its fullest and always with a smile and a kind heart. We lost a great man and visionary when Dean passed.”
In addition to his wife, Foreman is survived by his three brothers, a daughter, a son, a grandson and several nieces and nephews.
His family will host a memorial at 10 a.m. on Friday at the Portofino Hotel & Marina in Redondo Beach, Calif.