DENIM DISH

Photo Finish
Todd Oldham and Polaroid, both aggressively chasing the teen market, have joined forces — Oldham with his T02 junior jeans line, Polaroid with its new I-Zone instant camera, which takes miniature photos and photo stickers.
The camera will be sold for $24 at T02 Todd Oldham stores in New York and Miami, plus select department stores, said Ross Klein, senior vice president of marketing for Sun Apparel, which produces T02 jeans under license. Oldham plans to develop clothing and accessories to complement the camera. In 2000, Oldham plans to create an exclusive, limited-edition T02 Todd Oldham pocket camera.
In addition, teenagers will be encouraged to submit Polaroid pictures to the Todd Oldham web site, some of which may be used for the spring 2000 ad campaign. Oldham will shoot the campaign using Polaroid technology.
Print ads and consumer contests are being planned to promote the tie-in.

Blue Spirit
Denim has long been little more than an afterthought at junior sportswear firm Esprit de Corp.
Not anymore.
As part of the San Francisco-based firm’s overhaul of its core “red label” casualwear business, denim will be getting a more prominent role. The spring 2000 collection, for example, has cropped jeans, denim shorts, stretch denim pants and trim-fitting jeans jackets. All told, denim garments make up 12 percent of the collection.
“Denim for us should be an important part of the business, because it’s an important part of the American wardrobe,” said Hank Sinkel, president of sportswear and kids’ wear at Esprit. “We want this to be a significant growth opportunity for the business.”
Esprit is preparing for an even larger denim push for fall 2000. Sinkel estimated jeanswear should end up accounting for about 20 to 25 percent of total volume.
Although there are a lot of new players crowding into the junior arena — Ralph by Ralph Lauren bowed this fall, and junior lines from Tommy Hilfiger and DKNY Jeans arrive next spring — Esprit is confident its sexy but scrubbed California image will fill a niche for girls who are clean-cut but stylish.
“The whole zone for the younger, better customer is where the retailer is looking to develop more businesses,” said Meg Walsh, vice president of product development, sportswear and kids.
Noting that many status jeanswear firms have their roots in men’s wear, she said Esprit is “all about girls.” And she said the firm will definitely take more of a “fashion denim” approach. To that end, Esprit is planning to add more embellished styles next season. Esprit jeans will retail from about $49 to $69.
Sinkel said Esprit’s red label should be in about 750 doors next spring.
As reported, Esprit’s president and chief executive officer Jay Margolis is exiting the company in January. He had been in the midst of rebuilding the once red-hot label, which had experienced several turbulent years and volume erosion in the early to mid-Nineties. A successor hasn’t been named yet.
The 31-year-old company’s U.S. business peaked in 1986 at about $600 million. This year, Esprit expects to generate a total wholesale volume of about $360 million.

For Joseph: More Stores
For Joseph is revving up its retail rollout. The Culver City, Calif., jeanswear firm opened two more locations this summer — one in the San Francisco Center mall, another at the new Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. The new units have a bright, modern, high tech atmosphere distinct from older locations, which are more traditional, warm and woody. The first freestanding For Joseph store bowed in 1992 in Century City, Calif. There is also a store at the Fashion Island shopping complex in Newport Beach, Calif.
Joseph Agi, founder and president of the company, said he has been concentrating on expanding the collection and establishing the wholesale business before expanding his retail network. Six more locations are planned over the next two years. Cities near the top of the list include New York and Miami.

Custom Denim
Avant-garde New York designer Susan Cianciolo has found a way to marry two of fashion’s current obsessions: denim and the handmade look. Her do-it-yourself denim skirt comes packaged in plastic with scissors and pins to encourage customization and experimentation. The skirt retails for about $100 by special order through Alleged Galleries in Manhattan’s newly trendy meatpacking district.
Cianciolo had several colleagues wearing versions during an installation this week for her Run 9 collection for spring 2000, proving there’s more than one way to dice up denim.

Guess Clicks
Guess Inc. has partnered with Styleclick.com, a fashion e-commerce web site company, to help drive traffic to its five-month-old online store. Under the agreement, visitors to styleclick.com who select a Guess item will be directed to the Guess store. In return, Styleclick.com gets a percentage of sales. Additionally, Guess will have a banner ad at Styleclick.com to drive traffic to Guess.com. Previously, Styleclick.com sold Guess products directly.

Born to Shop
Diesel’s spring ad campaign, while remaining ironic, focused on the rising crime rate in Europe. For fall, the Italian jeanswear firm is widening its scope and promoting shopping as the cure for all ills.
Print ads that bowed in several September books show a young couple ruminating about world peace, medical breakthroughs and the meaning of love, only to confess that what they really want to do is get out there and buy some jeans. Several versions showcase dirty washes.

More Girbaud
I.C. Isaacs & Co., which makes Marithe & Francois Girbaud jeanswear under license, plans to open an additional 24 in-store Girbaud shops by the end of the year, bringing the total to 47.
Danny Gladstone, president of the Girbaud division, said the shop-in-shop strategy has quickly raised the brand’s profile. “Sell-throughs have been very strong, which is resulting in opportunities to open more shop-in-shops, as well as expand the overall distribution of the Girbaud brand,” he said.
Isaacs is based in Baltimore.

Squeeze Adds New Fabrics
Junior jeanswear firm Squeeze is considering the introduction of a higher-priced collection for fall 2000 retailing. Stephen Hardy, the new design director at the New York firm, said the premium label would focus on “luxurious fabrics” such as velvet, silk-blend velvets and stretch fabrics with 8 to 10 percent-elastin content. It will likely be priced about 20 percent higher than regular Squeeze jeans, which retail from about $38 to $42.
Meanwhile, Hardy’s spring 2000 collection already contains lots of alternative fabrications for a brand best known for denim overalls and shortalls. These include a soft cotton and nylon blend and a velvety pony print.

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