Paper Denim & Cloth is back in business.
This story first appeared in the July 11, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The pioneering premium denim brand has been revived by one of its original cofounders, Alex Gilbert Gaines, with financial backing from her father, Dick Gilbert, a longtime denim veteran who founded Mudd jeans. This latest incarnation of Paper Denim & Cloth will offer men’s and women’s denim and sportswear collections for spring.
Gaines cofounded Paper Denim & Cloth in 1999 with her brother, Chris Gilbert, and denim entrepreneur Scott Morrison, who went on to found Earnest Sewn and 3×1.
“I think Paper Denim & Cloth is a brand that has a lot of potential that it hasn’t lived up to,” said Gaines, who originally exited the company about a year after its founding to move to California, where she worked for Gap on its 1969 denim brand. “I feel like it has a destiny. I want to create a legacy brand for my dad and our family. People in their late 20s and 30s and 40s remember the brand well and get really excited talking about it — especially men.”
The Gilberts owned and operated Paper Denim & Cloth through the early boom years of premium denim. As competition heightened in the upper end of the market, in 2006 the company took a different tack and targeted the $100 to $160 price point of entry-level premium denim. At the end of 2006, it partnered with Endurance LLC, a manufacturer and licensee, in an effort to grow sales. The line was shuttered shortly after, said Celeste Massa, chief operating officer of the revived Paper Denim & Cloth, which is based in New York.
“In August of last year, my dad started talking about going into business again. We decided that Paper still had a good name,” explained Gaines, who expects sales to be split evenly between men’s and women’s.
For spring, the men’s denim assortment includes three fits and the women’s includes six fits, with each in six to 10 washes. The men’s fits use some of the original blocks from the early days of Paper Denim & Cloth, which have been dubbed the Original fit. Jeans will retail from $165 to $240.
The men’s sportswear offering includes woven shirts, knits, French terry loungewear and outerwear. The women’s lineup encompasses silk dresses, poplin tops, jersey pieces, leather and outerwear.
Chris Gilbert, who previously served as president of Paper Denim & Cloth is not involved in the company, said Gaines. In 2009, he launched another denim line called Resin, also backed by his father, but that venture has shuttered. Resin designer Chantel Valentene has been tapped as creative director of Paper Denim & Cloth.
Gaines and Chris Gilbert previously marketed a contemporary line together from 2004 to 2005, under the Alex Gaines name.
The new Paper Denim & Cloth designs will first be available to consumers on an e-commerce site at Paperdenimandcloth.com in September with a few basic styles, which will expand to the full spring assortments in December. Gaines is wholesaling the line via the Hatch showroom, which is targeting upscale specialty retailers at the upcoming Project and Coterie trade shows.