LOS ANGELES — Three years after departing Seven For All Mankind as its creative director, Tim Kaeding is jumping back into the premium denim market with a new line called Mother.
Launching for spring, Mother emphasizes a refined look with soft, comfortable fabrics. Tapping into his relationships with top Japanese textile mills such as Kurabo, Kaihara and Nisshinbo, Kaeding is offering rayon-and-cotton denim that’s ideal for draping, as well as supple twill blended from Supima cotton and Lycra spandex. Wholesaling from $75 to $100, the 15 styles in the inaugural collection range from chambray shirts, high-waisted miniskirts and shorts with rolled-up hems to flare pants with a 22-inch leg opening and slouchy skinny jeans.
The palette integrates white and black denim with twill that’s been dyed khaki and a cloudy blue. The indigo washes come in medium and dark shades, some of which are sanded for a weathered look. While some jeans have a discreet “M” stitched onto the back pocket, Kaeding sought subtlety in details, placing black enamel rivets on black jeans and stitching patent leather tabs inside collars and waistbands.
“Fashion has become simpler in silhouette and more elaborate in detail and texture and fabric,” said Kaeding, who’s totaled 14 years of denim experience designing not only at Seven but also at Gap. “I feel a lot of the denim [on the market] has gotten goofy…It’s time to move on to slightly more sophisticated looks.”
After the noncompete clause in his contract with Seven expired a year ago, Kaeding started working on Mother with Lela Tillem, the owner of Sea Showroom. Tillem also had ties to Seven, having opened the showroom that represented the pioneering premium denim label in 2000. She also handled sales for rival denim brand Citizens of Humanity.
“Design is only one part,” Kaeding said. “You definitely need strong sales.”
With four other employees working out of Sea Showroom in downtown Los Angeles and an office in Gardena, Calif., Tillem said the goal for first-year sales is between $5 million and $10 million. Some of the specialty stores being targeted are Barneys New York, Nordstrom, Intermix, Steven Alan, Ron Herman in Los Angeles and Max in Denver. To whet buyers’ appetites, Tillem said they plan to do an early shipment of 500 units to stores in November.
Of the lessons he learned while working at Seven during the heyday of the premium denim business, Kaeding said, “if anything…listen to the customer a lot more. It’s not just a whim [for customers to buy] anymore. There really has to be a reason. It has to be special. You have to love it.”