DENIM DISH

Pepe Revs Up In Canada

Pepe Jeans has signed a deal with Keystone, a Canadian private label manufacturer, for sales, manufacturing and distribution of the denim brand in Canada, according to Keystone’s Mitchell Cobrin, division manager for the Pepe business.
“The business had been run by Pepe out of New York,” said Cobrin.
“We had been looking for a high-profile brand for a while and the Pepe owners contacted us. They felt that the business could be bigger here, but that Tommy Hilfiger was growing so quickly that they were neglecting the brand,” he noted.
Pepe Jeans holds the license for the year-old Tommy Hilfiger women’s business.
Cobrin said retailers are already familiar with Keystone, which has been manufacturing bottoms for 80 years. The company owns its factories and contracts out related sportswear pieces.
He said he plans to bring Pepe to the number-one position in what he calls the “second tier — after Guess, CK, Levi’s, Tommy and Polo.”
He added, “That is, I want to be number one over Buffalo, Silver and Request — the local labels.”
That will be done partly by lowering Pepe’s prices about $10. Jeans that had retailed for $53 to $57 ($75 to $80 Canadian) will now be $46 to $50 ($65-$70 Canadian).
“That will put us a notch below the Guess and Tommy brands,” Cobrin said.
While Keystone will use its own sourcing and manufacturing, Cobrin said the company will work closely with Pepe’s New York offices on design and advertising.

Sasson’s Black Look

Sasson, the $400 million mass market jeanswear and sportswear company, has introduced a junior denim line under the label Black Tab Edition.
Black Tab was developed by Sasson president Linda Elton and design director Don Polley to target the fashion-forward junior customer. The label is being tested in some of Sasson’s retail accounts now, but will have a nationwide rollout and launch for fall with in-store and ad programs to support it.
The line is based around denim jeans, which are offered in three fits: basic wide-leg, loose-fit and carpenter. They wholesale for around $14.

Lee’s Fresh Faces

Lee Jeans and Elite Model Management, which are producing this year’s nationwide model search, launched the U.S. regional finals Tuesday night in New York.
The annual contest is held at 15 centers around the country; finalists meet in New York for the last U.S. round in August.
The winners go on to the worldwide competition in Nice, France, where prizes include modeling contracts.
In other Lee news, the company has been named a “partner in progress” by Sears, Roebuck.
The appellation is given each year to companies that the retailer determines provide outstanding products and services.

Stop Action

Calvin Klein Inc. said a Milan court has issued an interim injunction against All American Stars Import-Export for alleged parallel importing of CK Calvin Klein jeans.
The shop is accused of importing and offering for sale in its Milan shop CK jeans that were produced and licensed for sale only in North America, the designer firm said, and nearly 300 pieces of apparel were confiscated. Klein said the action was “another success in its ongoing campaign to combat counterfeiting and parallel importing.

Girbaud Shop In Paris

Marithe + Francois Girbaud has opened its third store in Paris, at 38 Rue Etienne Marcel.
The 1,400-square-foot, three-level store offers the label’s sportswear for men and women, as well as its jeanswear, accessories and footwear.
A spokeswoman for the company said the space had been a Girbaud shop several years ago, and when the lease became available again, the company decided to move back.
Girbaud’s apparel is produced under license to the Italian manufacturer Stefanel; its jeanswear is licensed to VF Corp. in North America.

Tractor Drive

Howard Mensch, former vice president of sales and marketing for Stevenson Overall Co., and Diane Kuczer, who had designed that line, have started their own label, Tractor Brand Jeans.
The denim-based junior and girls’ company is a joint venture with Crane Manufacturing Co., Marionville, Mo.
It will feature forward looks and will wholesale from $15 to $22 for junior and $11 to $18 for girls’.
Tractor is forecasting $5 million in first-year wholesale sales and has started to ship for summer deliveries. Its offices are at 209 West 38th Street in New York.

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