Byline: David Grant Caplan

NEW YORK — Seeking to continue the strong sales that denim jackets enjoyed last year, for fall, jeans vendors are trotting out a variety of new jacket silhouettes as alternatives to the classic, fitted, waist-length look.
The category needs an infusion of new ideas to keep its momentum, vendor executives acknowledged.
“I am seeing a slowdown in the traditional denim jacket because every customer pretty much has one now,” said Kimberly Hill, vice president of sales at Polo Jeans Co. “So in order to take it to the next level, it’s being done in different bodies.”
Polo Jeans, a division of Sun Apparel Corp., for the fall is offering a denim duster. The company will also increase its use of embellishments, such as studs and leather trimming, on its basic jacket styles.
“We all have the classic jeans jacket in our closet, so the whole idea is how do we make it new, exciting and different without losing the fact that it is a jeans jacket,” said Polo Jeans creative director Chris Leba.
North of the border, Bullet Blue Jeans co-owner Roger Vignales said the Montreal-based company “needed to do something else in jackets for fall+to stimulate jacket sales by offering innovation.”
Bullet Blue Jeans’ offerings for fall include a three-quarter-length belted coat with a sherpa-style fleece collar and a jacket with fake-fur trimmed cuffs and collar.
DKNY Jeans president Susan Davidson said, “There will always be a market for the traditional, classic, jeans jacket, but to broaden the appeal now, the definition of the jeans jacket must broaden.”
She said “the sales have pretty much stayed the same for traditional denim jackets and that is probably due to the different washes and fits that we offer every season.”
DKNY Jeans, for fall, is showing a fitted duster, a 3/4-length jacket, a fitted denim blazer and a motorcycle-style jacket made from denim and leather. The line’s junior collection will include a pea coat with a detachable fake-fur collar and cuffs.
Sandra Campos, senior vice president of the women’s division at Nautica Jeans Co., said the company will offer, in the fall, an expanded selection of denim jackets, including a blazer and trench coat.
“The customer is still wearing denim and buying denim, but she’s looking for newness in denim,” she said. “You see it in bottoms and you see the same thing in jackets.”
Campos said the proliferation of denim offerings from designer labels, such as Chanel, Marc by Marc Jacobs and D&G, has made it easier for status brands to offer dressier denim items.
“Everyone’s doing denim in some shape or form,” she said. “It definitely brings it to a more aspirational level, as opposed to just being something that’s worn everyday.”
Even relative newcomers to the denim game are turning to updated jacket styles as the key to catching consumers’ eyes.
At contemporary resource ABS by Allen B. Schwartz, which also produces Allen B., president of sales Lloyd Singer said, “we have tweaked all of our jackets that are classic in one way or another to make them more of-the-moment.”
The company’s fall offerings include a stretch peplum denim jacket from Allen B. and a stretch denim trench coat with leather trim from the ABS by Allen Schwartz line.
Jill Stuart Jeans, which is produced by New York-based Alpha Garment, will also tweak its jacket offerings for fall.
“Denim is a category still on fire and people certainly still need to wear jackets, but they can’t possibly continue to keep buying one silhouette over and over again,” said president Charles Jebara. “What we’re trying to do is sort of reinvent the category through fabrications and washes and bodies.”
For its inaugural spring season, Jill Stuart Jeans’ denim offerings included a two-button blazer and a classic jacket in various washes. For fall, it will offer a belted barn jacket, baseball jacket, motocross jacket, ranch jacket and a short leather-trimmed blazer.
Jordache Enterprises Ltd.’s Jordache Originals line, is also seeking to re-energize the category with fashion-forward jackets.
“The jeans jacket category definitely needs an infusion of creativity since most consumers already own a basic, rigid, jeans jacket,” said Jordache Originals design director Stephen Whitney Baum.
Baum said the line, which launched last November, will include, for fall, a belted duster and a coatdress.