Hip-hop and R&B royalty came out in force last week to celebrate the release of the Tommy Jeans Mix Tape, Volume 1. The CDs are distributed free through special “street teams” that give them out at club openings, record-release parties and sporting events. The party, cosponsored by Vibe magazine, was held at the Altman Building here. Guests, including L’il Kim, Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Redman, Jam Master J of Run DMC and Miss Teen USA Ashley Coleman, listened to the sounds of deejay Ron G., who mixed the Tommy tape.
Ron G. is considered one of the early pioneers of deejay-mixed tapes and synonymous with the underground hip-hop movement. The Tommy tape features 18 exclusive tracks and soon-to-be-released singles. According to a Tommy Jeans spokeswoman, about 5,000 copies of the CD were produced.
Sherry Krantz, public relations director for DKNY Jeans, Active and Juniors, did a bit of moonlighting this past year.
She is the founder and creator of Vivianlives.com, a Web site that went live Wednesday. It chronicles the life of a 24-year-old cartoon character living in Manhattan and lets Web browsers check out her apartment, her social life and her around-the-clock activities — with lots of product placements and discount offers. The principals of the parent company, Forever After Inc., are lining up brand partners for the site. Those confirmed so far, said Krantz, include DKNY Jeans, Evian, Gibson Guitars and Sony Music.
Krantz came up with the idea and hired a publicist, creative director, Internet expert and ceo.
With her flowing, curly hair and fashion attitude, Vivian bears a resemblance to Krantz herself. But Krantz said, “She’s much cooler than I am.”
Ultimately, the site will be equipped for e-commerce, possibly as early as February, Krantz said. Vivian Lives products include Palm Pilot covers, condom cases, cell-phone bags and other accessories. The current line is priced from $20 to $38.
“Everything will stay within her price points,” Krantz noted. “She’s not a Prada girl.”
Krantz said the site will first establish Vivian as an “engaging, endearing character” and build her credibility. After all, she’ll be making recommendations on everything from music to fashion.
“There’s a whole section called ‘Shop,’ and it’s set up for cosmetics, apparel and accessories that Vivian herself uses or endorses,” Krantz explained. For example, Vivian’s closet contains DKNY Jeans, and Web users can find out why she likes them, how she wears them, how much they cost and where she bought them.
A launch party for the site is planned for Friday at the Angel Orensanz Foundation in Manhattan, with DKNY Jeans, Evian and Gibson Guitars as sponsors.
In the video for the hit single “Heartbreaker,” Mariah Carey dances around in a skimpy top and Levi’s jeans with the waistband ripped off. According to her publicist, Carey loves wearing Levi’s, but, finding the fit tight around the waist, had started rolling down the waistband. A few months ago, her stylist, Tonjua Twist, suggested she cut the waistband off. Voila! A fashion trend in the making.
Moderate junior firms have moved quickly to capitalize on what could be a hot spring item.
New York-based Mudd Jeans plans to ship its 23-inch flared “Mariah” jeans at the end of January in two washes, having sold the style to retailers during the November market. “Everyone wants to try it because it’s new and everyone’s looking for items,” said George Fontini, a partner at Mudd. “It’s a way to update a bell-bottom. We’re testing it so we can use it for a back-to-school item, which we start booking in mid-February.”
Lisa Engelman, national sales manager of Paris Blues, said she’s taking a wait-and-see approach.
“It’s not getting the buzz that I thought it would,” she said. “Every time I watch the video, I go, ‘Hmmnnnn.’ I think it’ll have a life, but I don’t know if it’s going to be the next basic. It’s a nice interpretation of the destroyed look. It’s easier to understand than holes all over the place.”
Spencer Rosenheck, president of sales and marketing at LEI, said the frayed, no-waistband jeans are just one expression of a trend toward “Hollywood” style, low-riding waistbands. “We’ve shipped it in the past and it’s been very, very good,” he said.
He said the popularity of the Mariah Carey version will depend on the longevity of the video and on whether other music stars and celebrities adopt the look.
Gregg Fiene, vice chairman of Aris Industries and chief executive officer of its women’s brands, said he traces the trend back a year ago to Europe. He recalled an incident in June 1998 when he saw a woman cut the waistband off a pair of vintage jeans while waiting for a flight at the airport in Nice, France.
No-waistband jeans were part of the first collection of XOXO Jeans when the brand was relaunched as an in-house business a year ago. Fiene said few American retailers understood the look then, but Carey’s endorsement and exposure should help.
XOXO’s advertising agency, Laspata/DeCaro, already shot some spring images featuring an embellished jeans style with no waistband. The spots will break in March magazines, Fiene noted.
Guess Inc., the Los Angeles-based jeanswear firm, has signed a licensing agreement with Designer Classics LLC, an affiliate of Mamiye Bros. Inc., to produce and distribute infants’ and children’s apparel under the Baby Guess and Guess Kids brands starting with the fall 2000 season. The collections will include shirts, pants, dresses, jackets and jeans sized to fit children up to six years old.
New York-based Mamiye produces children’s apparel under license for VF Corp., Disney, Warner Bros. and Mattel. The previous licensee for Guess’s infants’ and children’s apparel was Los Angeles-based Pour Le Bebe.
Weaving a Brand
Continuing to extend its brand into more product categories, moderate junior firm LEI has signed a licensing agreement with Krazy Kat Sportswear to produce woven shirts starting with the spring 2000 season. The debut collection, developed in concert with LEI’s design team, will feature techno and hippie looks. Krazy Kat, based in Carlstadt, N.J., also produces private label apparel for such stores as Saks Fifth Avenue, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s.
LEI already has licensed footwear, girls’ wear, knit tops, woven tops, intimate apparel, handbags, backpacks, small leather goods, hats and cold-weather accessories.