Byline: Scott Malone / Joshua Greene / With contributions from Katherine Bowers, Los Angeles
Miss Sixty Heads Downtown
A 1,500-square-foot space will house the new Miss Sixty boutique on Mulberry Street, in New York’s NoLIta neighborhood — an area that company executives said fits the brand’s grassroots image.
“We wanted to target the downtown crowd, where new trends are happening,” said Sixty USA’s director of retail, Karin Plonaitis.
The assortment primarily will be bottoms, showcasing the line’s wide array of low-slung, hipster jeans in cuts ranging from semi-straight to super boot-cut in a variety of washes.
“You’ll see dark denim to bleached denim, all the way to acid wash,” Plonaitis said. “We wanted to show our experience in the denim market and our wide offering to different age groups.”
The interior will be a mixture of Fifties decor and modern metal hanging racks and shelving fixtures with light beechwood floors.
“We want the customer to feel its very one-of-a-kind, from the customer service to the assortment of clothes,” Plonaitis said.
The store will be split into front and back halves linked by a tunnel. The front space will show the jeans and clothing, while the back area will house accessories and the fitting rooms.
The boutique is scheduled to open on Oct. 19 and talks for more stores, including a larger New York store that would serve as a flagship, are under way.
Sheri Bodell Launching Jeans
Sheri Bodell is joining the growing throng of designers jumping into the jeanswear business.
Her company, which for several seasons has featured denim in its main collection, is unveiling a new line this month called SB Jeans for spring retailing.
Eileen Weber, vice president of sales and marketing, said that despite growing concerns about the state of the economy, she and Bodell are convinced that pressing ahead is the right thing to do.
“As we considered launching this, we kept saying, ‘do you think this is the right thing to do, considering the economic situation and all the concerns about is the market oversaturated?”‘ she acknowledged in an interview at her company’s Manhattan showroom.
Executives based their decision to press on partly on a great faith in Americans’ love of shopping.
“When women are depressed, we shop,” Weber contended. “I’ll be the first one to say that.”
The line, which is manufactured in China by CPI International, is intended to be “a celebration of sex,” focused on tight jeans with details including stylized hardware, bleached pinstripes and patterned fabric produced by picking out yarns by hand from the weft of the denim.
SB Jeans includes 10 styles of jeans, priced from $38 to $49 wholesale, three jacket styles and a dozen knit tops. Weber said Bodell is positioning the line to occupy the opening price points of the high-end jeans market, where retail prices pass the $100 mark.
“We really want to tailor our business to meet the current economic market,” she said. “Women are going to be much more frugal shoppers.”
Learning the Lix
Sometimes, something as simple as a belt loop can hook a customer.
Newcomer denim brand Lix is finding its arrow-shaped loops — which fall somewhere between western and gothic — are doing the trick.
“Our belt loops do get us a lot of attention on the rack,” said Greg Duzian, head of design and product development for San Gabriel, Calif.-based Gene Pool Jeans Inc., Lix’s parent company.
According to managing director Patrick Eaves, Lix is on track to do $3 million in its first year, based on distribution in Japan and to 120 specialty boutiques.
Lix has been “a sleeper hit,” said Jackie Brander, who owns the Fun boutique at Fred Segal Santa Monica. “I didn’t expect it to be what it was and so I had to reorder constantly.”
Stefani Greenfield, owner of New York-based Scoop, said Lix is holding its own among the 20 denim brands she carries, in the top tier with Earl, Juicy Jeans and Paper, Denim and Cloth.
“They do a really sexy saddleback with back slits,” Greenfield said. “That’s our number one.”
Lix — a name chosen for its sensual connotations — focuses on the sorts of details that catch the eye of boutique shoppers: careful seaming; low rises; dirty, abraded and tinted washes. Military influences such as pleat-front walking skirts with tab pockets and dusters with large buttons have done well, Duzian said.
Going forward, Duzian added that in his spring offerings, he’ll drop whiskering and other techniques he considers overplayed in favor of cleaner washes in true-blue tones. The spring line also will include a smattering of glam-rock pieces, including spring’s ivory denim handpainted with roses, as well as chalk-painted pieces with the silvery iridescence of fish scales. Wholesale prices range from $54 to $68 for bottoms; dusters go for $83.
Lix marks Gene Pool’s first foray into branded goods — the company shuttered its 15-year-old private label knitwear operation in January.
Duzian has aggressively worked to build the brand, which has caught the attention of Jennifer Lopez, whose stylist and assistant Gina Rizzo bought several pairs of the jeans.
Eaves said brand-building is “more our personality,” but that the company learned valuable lessons producing private label.
“We did a lot of volume and got a lot of experience,” he said.
Gene Pool is still relying on its knack for private label, albeit, on a much smaller scale, by producing custom pieces for retailers. Since the company still owns its knitting machines, Duzian said it likely will add knit tops to Lix down the road.
Earl Finds A Match
Earl Jean plans to open a New York flagship at the former location of Match restaurant on trendy Prince Street in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood.
“I think it’s good because it’s not the heart of SoHo, but it isn’t hidden in a Brooklyn basement trying to be too mysterious, either,” said Suzanne Costas Freiwald, co-founder and designer of Earl Jean.
The store’s interior, designed by Kramer Design Group — which also did the John Varvatos store across the street — will combine rich woods, navy blue leather and the industrial building’s existing metal.
“We’re not trying to make a statement with a huge white store and one pair of jeans in the middle,” Costas Freiwald said. She added that the store would be “like our jeans” with an emphasis on quality materials and basic design.
Since its founding in 1995, the Los Angeles-based company has been taking things “as they come,” but has looked to open a store in New York for quite some time. The company said more are likely to be on the way, especially in popular markets like London, San Francisco and Milan. The Prince Street location will be the company’s second store, and is slated to open at the end of October.
In addition to the jeans, the 1,500-square-foot store also will introduce the label’s shoe and accessory line and a limited men’s line.
Costas Freiwald said she expects first-year sales to come in at $2.5 million to $3 million.