LAURA C.: JEANS BY TEENS, FOR TEENS

Byline: Rusty Williamson

DALLAS — Laura Cagle is launching a new junior denim collection for fall next week called Laura C.
Chances are, she won’t have any trouble relating to her teen consumer audience.
After all, she’s only 16.
Cagle, a high-school junior in Eugene, Ore., came up with the idea for the line after a trip last year to Japan, where she saw some body-conscious lightweight jeans and jackets in dark rinses.
She comes by her fashion savvy and love of denim quite naturally. Her mother is a former retailer who owned several denim stores in Oregon, and her uncle is jeans-industry veteran Cliff Abbey, who is backing Laura C.
“Laura called me after her trip to Japan and told me about her idea for a denim collection,” said Abbey. “I flew to Oregon and looked at her sketches. I liked what I saw.”
Abbey also owns and designs the Sutter’s junior and contemporary denim line. He’s been on the denim scene for over 30 years and has produced a number of labels, including Sticky Fingers, which he founded back in the Seventies.
The Laura C. collection is designed by Cagle, and Abbey is projecting first-year sales of $2 million.
He is so optimistic about Laura C. that he’s already begun to produce the collection, even though he doesn’t have orders in hand yet.
Abbey said several major stores and catalogs have appointments to view the line, including catalogs Delia’s and Moxy Girl and junior chains such as Pacific Sunwear, Gadzooks, Miller’s and Maurice’s.
Abbey said Laura C., with its dark finishes and lightweight 12-ounce denim construction, is appropriate for the teen denim market. The jeans are low-rise and tight and come in three styles: 18-inch boot cut, 20-inch flares and 26-inch bell-bottoms. Jackets are short and body-conscious, and some styles are emblazoned with screen prints of a star, which is the company’s icon.
There are also logo T-shirts that bear the slogan “Made in Heaven.”
“It’s a niche that’s not being addressed. Twelve-ounce denims are the entire focus of the line,” he explained.
“Most of the jeans in the junior market are 13 1/2- to 14 1/2-ounce denims. I think the tight and lightweight trend is definitely going to move from being a niche trend to a huge part of the denim scene.”
Wholesale prices run from $19 for jeans to $24 for jackets. The line is in production in Mexico and will be shipped from a distribution center in San Francisco, where Abbey lives.
He’s founder, president and designer of the three year-old Sutter’s junior and contemporary denim label. Sutter’s is projecting sales of about $14 million this year. The line has 160 accounts including Nordstrom, Pacific Sunwear, Zumi’s and Gadzooks.
For fall, Sutter’s styling is body-conscious and low-rise. Trends include 14-wale corduroy boot-cut bottoms in earth tones such as merlot, chocolate, sage, black and khaki. There are also garment-dyed twills in bright and pastel colors.
Wholesale prices are $38 to $55.
When not at his offices in South San Francisco, Abbey typically heads for the Napa Valley, where he owns a vineyard. Next year, he and his wife plan to market a wine called Luce-Abbey.