Halpern and Jolna Team Up for Rewash

Denim brand aims for lower price tier.

When Alden Halpern and Steve Jolna met to discuss a possible new denim brand, everything seemed to fall into place.

This story first appeared in the August 14, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“We were both on the same page,” Halpern said. “We wanted to fill that niche in the $59 to $89 price point at retail.”

Halpern, who owns and operates the $120 million Tyte junior denim brand in New York, met Jolna — one of the founders of Bella Dahl, a now-defunct Los Angeles-based contemporary denim brand — last year when Jolna was looking to get back into the denim business.

“I walked into his office and saw this line of beautifully designed jeans,” Halpern said. “He wanted to make the line super high-end, for something like $250 at retail. So I said, let’s make it the $59 to $89 line, which is the next volume category in denim.”

With Halpern’s production capabilities with factories in Hong Kong, he took Jolna’s designs and used Japanese denim to manufacture the collection. The result is a brand they call Rewash, launching for February selling. The idea behind the collection is to reintroduce highly destructed, hand-sanded and washed denim jeans, but at a lower price point to compete with brands such as Mavi and Silver.

There are four fits — a skinny leg, straight leg, flare and boyfriend fit — all made to look distressed through sanding, washing and ripping the jeans. One of the flare styles even comes with a tear at the leg opening to stick a high-heel through. In addition, there are an array of corduroy pants in colors like green and burnt orange, white denim vests, miniskirts and cotton and linen cargo pants in colors such as tan and chocolate. Halpern said he plans to launch a full line of destructed sweatshirts and bottoms, as well as a collection of knit tops.

In keeping with the Rewash slogan, “Vintage Americana,” the labeling and hangtags will feature a graphic of a pinup girl and each style will be named after a World War II fighter plane. The collection wholesales from $17 to $22 and Halpern said he expects to reach $11 million in first-year sales.

In the future, Halpern is planning on marketing the brand in stores by providing fixtures, as well as his own salespeople, to educate customers about each fit.

“We really need to bring service back into the stores, similar to what they already do on the cosmetics floors,” he said. “My plan is to employ my own salespeople and get them onto the jeans floor to sell this line in 25 of our top doors. The personal connection they can make with customers is priceless.”

Halpern said he plans to work with Jolna again to launch even more brands and possibly relaunch the Bella Dahl brand, but only at a lower retail price than it once was.

“The whole attitude in which we all do business needs to change,” he said. “Everything we do from now on will be the best quality we can, but at that lower price point.”

Correction: Tyte junior denim is a $120 million dollar brand. This was reported incorrectly in the paper.