PASSAGE TO INDIA: Lee Jeans is going into India.
All manufacturing and marketing there will be handled through a technical assistance agreement between Lee and AM-IN Horizons Inc., a U.S. company that is affiliated with India’s Arvind Fashions Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Arvind Mills Ltd.
There is a growing middle class of over 200 million in India, and the move will allow Lee to tap into that market, said John G. Johnson, president of VF International, a division of VF Corp., Lee’s parent company.
Johnson noted that 43 percent of India’s population is between the ages of 15 and 45, prime wearers of denim jeans.
“This launch supplements VF’s existing jeanswear presence in India,” he added. “Wrangler has been sold in India since 1987 under a similar arrangement.”
The Lee venture was first established in 1993. Arvind Fashions has since established a manufacturing facility in Banglore, India, under close supervision by on-site Lee personnel. The denim is being made to Lee specifications by The Arvind Mills.
Distribution of Lee products will be through a chain of franchised exclusive Lee shops and some upscale department stores throughout major cities in India.

L.A. STORE: French denim designers Marithe & Francois Girbaud will open their second freestanding U.S. store. It’s in Los Angeles at 334-336 North Beverly Drive and is slated to open at the end of May.
With 3,000 square feet of selling space and 1,500 square feet of storage, it is the largest Girbaud store in the world, according to a spokeswoman for the company. The other U.S. store is in Chicago.
The Los Angeles store will include a mix of about 60 percent denim, with Girbaud’s sportswear lines Spqrcity and Metamorphojean making up the rest. The interior, with 18-foot ceilings, is being designed by architect Stephano Carmi.

JEANSWEAR TEES UP: Blue Jeans for Babies, the March of Dimes program sponsored by the Jeanswear Communications group, is hosting its first annual golf invitational at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., Oct. 2.
Tournament and tour officials’ togs will be provided by Lee Apparel. The tournament is open to men and women, and there will be golf clinics hosted by pro golfers, according to a spokeswoman for the March of Dimes.
The Blue Jeans program, now in its second year, has raised $1.5 million through various corporate activities for the March of Dimes.

WINDY DENCITY: Dencity Jeans Couture, a one-year-old casual bottoms company in Chicago’s Highland Park suburb, is going wide for fall.
The company uses only Tencel denim, a supple cellulosic fabric, said general manager Joseph Thorne.
“It has the softness and drape of linen, but takes color like cotton. We can make silhouettes typical of trousers, but in colors that in the past you could only get with cotton,” said Thorne, whose previous post was as director of fabric finish technical services at Lee Jeans.
Dencity’s main silhouette is a five-pocket jean, and about 75 percent of the line is in a variety of indigo washes. Other colors change seasonally; this spring, the key colors are green, mauve and ecru. Next fall, brown and charcoal will be introduced.
“Black is an important color for us,” said Thorne. “We use eight different dyestuffs to get the darkest, richest black possible.”
Dencity will add some woven tops and vests for fall, he said. Bottoms retail for about $125 at better specialty stores. Thorne said the company will ship about 100,000 pieces next year for a volume of about $1 million.
Dencity is a division of Central Trading Enterprises, a Chicago-based holding company that includes several denim finishing businesses.

SWISH IN: Talk about putting a face to a name. Swish, the Italian jeans company, has made quite a splash with its catchy ad campaign featuring Naomi Campbell and Carla Bruni bad-mouthing each other.
“We like the gossip idea,” said Swish’s fashion designer, Raimondo Ciofani, who designed the campaign along with company owner Marcello Mastantuono. The ads, featured on billboards and in major fashion magazines here, were executed by Saatchi & Saatchi and have made the little-known company, which was founded in 1987, into one of Italy’s most talked-about jeans makers. The Swish line includes classic cut cotton jeans, as well as knits, leather jackets and casualwear, all in up-to-date colors and fabrics.
Swish is extremely proud of its entirely “Made in Italy” merchandise, said Ciofani.
“We didn’t want anything to do with ‘Made in Taiwan.’ I mean, why sacrifice quality?” he said. Aside from the European market, Swish also counts Japan, the U.S., Australia and South Africa among its export markets. The company’s target market is women between the ages of 15 and 26. The total sales for 1993 were $32 million, “and we are very ambitious for ’94,” said Ciofani, although he declined to make a growth projection.