MUDDY TOPS: Heavy demand for sandblasted flare-leg jeans and a catchy brand name have kept Mudd’s Dick Gilbert hopping.
“All we do now is look for new production,” said Gilbert, president of the junior jeanswear firm.
Now stores are asking for ancillary products. To wit: Gilbert has signed his first licensing agreement, with Los Angeles-based manufacturer Metro One, to produce knit tops under the Mudd label. The first shipments will arrive in time for holiday selling, but the big launch will be for spring. Tops, ranging from skimpy halters to long-sleeved T-shirts, will retail from about $12 to $24 to complement jeans that sell from $34 to $38.
Gilbert said he has also been approached by manufacturers to do other categories, from baseball caps to socks. To handle those queries, and seek new ventures, Gilbert has enlisted a licensing agent, International Networking Group, New York.
He said knapsacks will be an immediate priority for brand extensions, as will shoes, which Gilbert has long believed are a potent bellwether for the jeans business. Consider teenage girls’ current taste for high-stack shoes, which go so well with flare-leg jeans.

DIESEL AT HEEL: Diesel customers will soon know exactly what shoes to wear with their Keetar jeans. Global Brand Marketing, which recently signed a multiyear licensing agreement with the Italian jeanswear firm to produce and distribute footwear under the Diesel brand, plans to design the shoes based on the color and fabrication of Diesel jeanswear.
“We’ll use our footwear knowledge to create Diesel-looking footwear,” said Killick Datta, chief executive officer of Global, a Santa Barbara, Calif., apparel and footwear marketer.
Datta has held top executive posts at many footwear firms, including Sketchers International, Nike and L.A. Gear.
Global plans to launch three footwear ranges for fall 1998: fashion-forward shoes under the Diesel Collection label; better-priced shoes and boots under the D Diesel label, and sport-influenced, streetwise footwear under the D banner.
Prices are not yet final, but Datta sees distribution to department stores, better shoe stores, jeanswear stores and fashionable sports retailers.
Diesel is projecting global footwear volume of $150 million in four years, based on distribution to 75 countries. Production will be in Italy, Spain, Portugal, the U.S. and the Far East.

CASUAL-LEE: What’s a woman to wear to run with the bulls? According to The Lee Co.’s new print campaign for Lee Casuals, mini-check watch-pocket pants are the appropriate choice.
“Makes any situation more comfortable,” goes the tag line under a photograph of the woman sprinting through narrow, cobblestone streets, the horned beasts only steps behind her.
Lee has coined the term “anywhere casual” to support Lee Casual, a recently expanded product line that includes pants, shorts and tailored skirts in 8-ounce twill and yarn-dyed novelties. It says the new line picks up where business casual ends, offering bottoms appropriate for the theater, a soccer game, lunch or grocery shopping.
The print ads for the subbrand depict women in humorous situations made comfortable by the right pants. In addition to the running-with-bulls spots, there are ads about a marriage proposal gone awry, a chance encounter on a nude beach and a puppy on a new hardwood floor.
The ads are slated to appear in November and December issues of women’s consumer and entertainment magazines. The media buy includes Glamour, Self, Mode, Redbook, People and Entertainment Weekly.

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