LOS ANGELES — Five years after helping to sell Seven For All Mankind to VF Corp. for $775 million, Peter Koral is returning to the premium denim market with a new brand launched with his son David and a crew of Seven veterans.
This story first appeared in the March 14, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Koral is readying a women’s line called Koral Los Angeles for fall. In addition to his son, he’s teaming with Rick Crane and other former co-workers from Seven, including the original patternmaker and members of the sales, production, design and management staff.
“We feel that the timing couldn’t be better for us to come back into the industry,” said Koral, who serves as the Vernon, Calif.-based company’s chief executive officer. “We don’t really feel that denim is represented in its true form. There are a lot of five-pocket silhouettes out there but they’re not really denim.”
To support what they deem denim’s true form, Koral Los Angeles is promoting a concept dubbed the “lived-in length” that would make the jeans look as if a person broke them in through continuous wear. Starting with a lived-in length of 0, which is a basic rinse, the jeans are available in treatments resembling one, two, four, eight, 12, 24 and 36 months of wear. For each of its three monthly deliveries starting in July, the brand will offer a different fabric.
“It’s not vintage,” said Crane, who joined as Koral Los Angeles’ president and creative director after a previous stint as Seven’s executive vice president. “It’s very modern, sophisticated, clean.”
The inaugural collection offers 75 stockkeeping units in nine silhouettes, including cigarette, high-waisted bell-bottom, skinny and boyfriend, cut out of fabrics sourced from Italy and Japan. It also integrates coatings and a dozen colors, such as midnight blue and pink. Retail prices run from $150 to $250. A men’s line is in the works to premiere as early as next spring.
“Our [retail] strategy is to sell to every specialty store around the world who were our dear partners in the past,” Koral said. Although declining to project sales figures, he conceded, “With the amount of sku’s, it’s not a small line.”
Much has changed since Koral stepped out of the denim industry four years ago, when he finished a consultancy gig with Seven following the VF sale. A global recession overturned the way stores and shoppers approach retail, pricing came to the forefront and heightened pressure for speed to market, and novelty has made the premium denim industry even more competitive. In the interim, companies such as J Brand and AG Adriano Goldschmied have secured their foothold and newcomers like Current/Elliott and Mother Denim from Seven alumnus Tim Kaeding have gained momentum. Koral said he has learned from the past.
“What we’ve learned from Seven is you need to stay ahead of everybody in order to be successful,” he said. “When we started at Seven, premium denim didn’t really exist. We brought it forward. Now there are a lot of players in the game. You need to differentiate yourself. We can’t create a three-legged jean to be that different.”
For a youthful interpretation of the marketplace, Koral turns to David, 29, the latest family member and second-generation designer to work in Southern California’s expansive denim industry. While his father cofounded Seven For All Mankind in 2000 with Jerome Dahan and Michael Glasser, and his uncle, Richard Koral, who buys and sells overstock items as president and ceo of Jessica’s Factory Outlet LLC, was the creditor who forced the sale of Rock & Republic to VF in 2010, David has been a nightlife entrepreneur, owning buzzworthy eateries such as Mezze. While always spending time at Seven, David said he never worked in a specific area there.
“I watched my dad do his work,” he recalled. Now, holding the title of vice president at Koral Los Angeles, he said, “I’m very hands-on. I’m involved in every aspect of the business, from picking out fabric to fits and doing marketing and p.r.”
Despite all the references to Seven, the Korals and Crane are being careful not to turn Koral Los Angeles into “Seven For All Mankind 2.0.”