Byline: Luisa Zargani
Japanese animation, virtual gadgets and the latest drum-and-bass beats are the featured attractions at a lively new Web site for Killah Babe, the junior streetwear and jeanswear line produced by Italian firm Sixty SpA.
The site, which went live this month, is not yet equipped for e-commerce, but that is part of the plan, according to a spokesman. A launch date for online selling has not been set. Until then, Web surfers can use a high tech, hand-held virtual “navigator” — akin to a Game Boy — to find and view styles from the fall Killah Babe collection. The site is located at Killahbabe.com.
Turning Up Tyrese
Guess Inc., which recently signed hip-hop/R&B singer Tyrese as its spokesmodel, kicked off a series of appearances and performances this month with a private cocktail party at its store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif. The bash, on Dec. 2, was co-hosted by Vanity Fair magazine and attracted assorted bigwigs from the music business as well as basketball star Kobe Bryant. Paul and Maurice Marciano, co-chairmen and co-chief executive officers of Guess, were on hand to unveil images from Guess’s spring print and outdoor campaigns, which feature Tyrese.
A week later, Tyrese appeared at Macy’s Herald Square in New York for another performance and an autograph session. An estimated 600 people showed up. Some arrived more than three hours early for a front-row view of the 20-year-old.
A handful of California specialty stores is eagerly awaiting the January arrival of SBU, a new jeanswear line out of Rome.
“I’ve never seen such a fabulous fit for both women and men. The fit is impeccable,” announced Sharon Segal, owner of Sharon Segal at Fred Segal, Santa Monica, which added the line for spring. “In addition, the denim washes are amazing.”
Brothers Patrizio and Cristiano Perfetti, the owners and designers of SBU, said the line is based on quality of the washes and extensive research on materials.
“We pride ourselves on having our jeans produced in the Veneto area,” said Patrizio Perfetti, pointing out that the region has a historical tradition in the denim industry. “SBU washes and details are made by hand. This means each pair of jeans is unique.”
“The first thing we loved about SBU was the washes, which have a vintage flavor to them,” said MoeMoe Lwin, assistant buyer at American Rag in Los Angeles. “They look worn, but it’s all done intentionally. And the fit is very, very cute. Their pants are a little low on the waist and look really good on. It’s an inspired and clean collection.”
SBU is also the name of three stores the Perfettis own in Rome, which carry their own line and high-end designer labels, and which attract a string of Italian artists, actors and singers. The first store opened in 1991.
“We are retailers first, then designers,” said Patrizio Perfetti. “The line is successful also because SBU is created for other retailers. We understand their needs.”
SBU stands for Strategic Business Unit.
“We thought it conveyed the right image for our company,” Perfetti said. “We plan strategies for the future and new ways to establish an international business.”
SBU jeans are available in London, Munich and several American cities.
In the U.S., SBU jeans retail from approximately $140 to $210. The spring collection consists of about 15 styles. Perfetti described them as “refined basics” that are discreet, soft and comfortable.
“We don’t have any loud logo flashing on the product, and often this is what some retailers are looking for,” he said.
Stretching the Gap
It’s a common fit problem with women’s jeans: They fit through the hips, but gape at the back. Gitano thinks it has the solution with its Hidden Stretch jeans for plus-size women. They’re like regular jeans in every way, except the back yoke has been replaced with a discreet cotton-Lycra yoke. The style will be tested at about a dozen Kmart doors early next year, according to Len Silverman, Gitano’s director of marketing.
“What this allows a woman to do is wear a regular pair of jeans with a normal drape and fit. She gets all the benefits of wearing plus-size jeans without that stretchy look,” he said. “Until now, her only choice has been an elastic waistband. With this, she can tuck a shirt in and wear a belt.”
The jeans come in sizes 18 through 26 and retail for about $25. Gitano plans to offer the garment-dyed jeans in a range of colors. To highlight the product features, Silverman developed a cardboard “collar” that goes over the hanger with a cutout area to highlight the stretch yoke and waistband.
“A larger lady doesn’t need stretch all over, only where she’s bigger,” Deborah Hunter, Gitano’s design director, said as she showed off the stretchy yoke. “It’s really flattering.”
Silverman said he expects the style will eventually be offered in misses sizes as well. Anticipating strong consumer reaction, Gitano expects a larger rollout for fall 2000, he noted.
Seattle Pacific Industries Inc. is extending its Unionbay and UB brands into three new product categories. The Seattle-based jeanswear firm signed licensing agreements with New York-based Accessory Network for accessories, New York-based Vida Shoes International for footwear and St. Louis-based Aquarius Ltd. for belts and small leather goods. All the new products are expected to debut for fall 2000 retailing. The Accessories Network range will include handbags, backpacks, headwear, costume jewelry, cold-weather gear and hair accessories.
Cathie Underwood, who joined Seattle Pacific in May as vice president of licensing, said the purpose of the licensing program is “brand enhancement” at the request of its retail partner. She said she is also working on deals for socks and hosiery, outerwear, innerwear, fragrance, swimwear and sleepwear.