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Situated in Southgate, Calif., is a 400,000-square-foot laundry and manufacturing facility that churns out some of the most perfectly aged and treated denim in the U.S. It’s the home of Koos Mfg., the parent company of AG Adriano Goldschmied, whose AG-ed line of vintage-wash jeans has become one of the industry’s success stories despite the current economy.
Even with price tags of $225 to $325, consumers have been drawn to the expertly laundered jeans, which are merchandised by the number of years each style looks like it has been worn in, from 1 to 25 years—sort of like a wine vintage. “It’s a simple way for the consumer to understand the washes, rather than a random name,” said Samuel Ku, design director for the brand, showing off the range at Project Las Vegas. “Our most popular wash for guys has been the 10-year, which is a great medium-vintage look.”
Unlike less-expensive competitors, the AG-ed line features 3-D whiskering, which means that the fabric itself is crinkled and raised in ridges—as denim would be through natural wear through the years. The alternative, flat whiskering, is where sanding and potassium are used to create bleached-out effects, which can often look ersatz and cheap. “It’s a new technology we’ve invested a lot of money in,” noted Ku of the 3-D effects. “It really helps emulate a true vintage jean.”
The pricey AG-ed line has grown in just one year to account for 40 percent of AG Adriano Goldschmied sales, with sell-throughs of some styles reaching 30 to 40 percent a week at retail— impressive in any economy.