Habitual, the Los Angeles premium denim jeans brand that was known for its fits and cuts, is making a comeback under new ownership.
Habitual will relaunch next month as an updated contemporary denim and sportswear collection at retailers such as Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom.com, Shopbop.com, Stitch Fix, Rent the Runway, as well as boutiques nationwide.
Founded in 2001 by husband-and-wife design team Michael and Nicole Colovos (who left the brand in 2006), Habitual has had a bumpy history, including a bankruptcy by an earlier parent firm, Pacific Marketing Works Inc., and several owners. Habitual was acquired by Mamiye Group LLC in April from Denimxworks Inc.
Well-known in the early 2000s for hand-finishing its jeans and adding details such as cross-shaped stitching on back pockets, Habitual’s jeans were originally sewn and washed by artisans in Los Angeles.
The Mamiye Group, founded in 1948, is a large, privately held diversified apparel company whose brands include Little Me and Flapdoodles in children’s wear: Kensie Jeans in young contemporary; Wallflower in juniors; Curve Appeal in modern misses’ and Rebel Wilson X Angels for curvy women. Mamiye also has the license for C&C California for knits and denim. Denim is one of Mamiye’s core competencies. Kensie, Wall Flower and Rebel Wilson all feature denim as a key part of the mix.
In an interview with LeeAnn Grecco, vice president, sales and merchandising, and Jill Dente, marketing director at The Mamiye Group, the executives explained the brand’s history and how they are positioning the collection.
“The brand was originally known for its iconic signature details and back pocketing. We’ve taken sportswear and anchored it in denim,” said Grecco. The brand will be split between denim and sportswear. In addition to fashion pieces, within both will be essential pieces and core items and tops including supima cotton and silk and bottoms from denim to crepe. The collection will be housed in better contemporary departments.
According to Dente, the collection is geared to the modern woman and is designed to take her from her job to a dinner date. Grecco added that the collection is not geared to a specific age group, but rather could be a 25 year old or a 55 year old, depending on her mind-set. The majority of the collection is manufactured in China, with some merchandise produced in Peru.
The collection runs the gamut from knits and wovens to jackets, layering pieces, dresses and sportswear bottoms. Denim and sportswear wholesales from $30 to $130, with the jeans specifically wholesaling from $53 to $90.
Grecco said she wanted to make sure that the price point and the brand’s aesthetic were approachable, in terms of value. The company has updated the logo to make it clean and modern. The back pocket has a signature dart on it.
Habitual’s denim is designed by Jini Lee, who has been with Mamiye for 18 years. The sportswear is designed by Jessica Klaus, who has been with Mamiye a little over a year. “Together they are curating and dressing this woman and how we envision this brand today,” said Grecco.
Grecco said a hallmark of the collection is a lot of clean lines and very feminine styling. “There’s tremendous amount of detail to the chosen buttons, to the apron skirting inside the trouser pants to the denim. We’ve got some really beautiful denim, one of which is called cashmere touch which has a really beautiful hand,” said Grecco.
Jeanswear styles range from midrise ankle-skinny jeans to high-rise cropped flares to slim boyfriend jeans. “High-rise is a very important silhouette,” said Grecco. Washes range from dark to light, some with subtle hints of destruction, she said. She also said ankle treatments are important, whether it’s a frayed hem or a step hem or high slits. The Number 1 denim style is a straight leg hi-lo fray bottom.
“We’re all so accustomed to wearing stretch, but rigid denim is also emerging,” she said.
Habitual plans to roll out a social media campaign. The look book was styled by Brit and Kara Smith of Elkin. An e-commerce site will be launched in March that’s being developed in-house.
A girls’ line will be launched at the same time as the women’s line. The girls’ line will be carried in Saks Fifth Avenue (in-store and online), Lord & Taylor (online), Von Maur (in-store) and Dillard’s (online and in-store). It wholesales from $15 to $26.
In the fall, the company will introduce a sweater line, which will include cashmeres, wool blends and alpaca blends and will also add plus sizes. The long-term plan includes men’s. The company declined to give a first-year volume projection.
There are 50 stockkeeping units in the first launch, and the company plans five collections a year. Habitual is being shown at multiline contemporary showroom Designer Network N.Y./ L.A. at 515 Greenwich Street in New York.
“We wanted to leverage their accessibility to some of the retailers. They [Designer Network N.Y./ L.A.] have many of these stores already walking through their showroom,” said Grecco.