DENIM DISH

Parasuco Bows in Quebec
Kicking off its Canadian retail expansion, Parasuco Jeans Co. today expects to open a 4,200-square-foot store in Place Sainte-Foy, located just outside of Quebec City.
The Quebec City unit is the first of 20 stores the company plans to open over the next three years. It is located in a building formerly occupied by a bank, as is the company’s three-year-old Montreal flagship.
The look, according to president Sal Parasuco, is modern and industrial. The store has 30-foot ceilings, and there is a raised 14-foot-wide circular walkway over the selling floor. The company also has developed what Parasuco said is a new sort of rack for jeans: 14-foot-tall rotating silos with four columns of cubes that hold jeans. Each of the store’s five silo holds 400 pairs of jeans.
Parasuco is investing heavily in building a Canadian retail presence because it is concerned that Canada’s ongoing retail consolidation, along with the growing dominance of vertical operations like the Gap, is leaving apparel wholesalers with few outlets for their wares. The company has said it does not have similar concerns about the U.S. retail market.
Parasuco said company-owned stores could eventually represent half of the company’s revenues. He based that figure on the fact that Parasuco has already hit that level in Montreal, where its store generates sales of $2 million.
The company’s plans for a Toronto store are in limbo at the moment, however. Parasuco explained that he had located a vacant bank building and was planning to open a store in it when he was approached about developing a store, theater and hotel on another piece of property he owns. He said he plans to make a decision on which site to use within the next 30 days.
“My priority is to open another store as quickly as possible,” he said.

Lucky Promotes Merrill
Lucky Brand Dungarees this month promoted its chief financial officer, Trent Merrill, to executive vice president.
In his new role, Merrill oversees the growth of the company’s retail, wholesale and licensing efforts. The Los Angeles-based company, which is majority owned by Liz Claiborne Inc., plans to open 20 stores this year, tripling its retail presence. Eventually, the company plans to open as many as 100 units.
Merrill, who will continue to perform his financial duties, joined Lucky in 1996 after serving as a partner at Stonefield Josephson Accountancy Corp., where he worked as Lucky’s accountant. He will continue to report to Lucky chief executive officer Gene Montesano and president Barry Perlman.

Fashion Museum on the Way
Those with a passion for jeans and fashion may soon have another reason to go to Florida. Early next year, an exhibit called “Denim: From Work Clothes to Haute Couture” is set to open at the planned Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History of Delray Beach.
The exhibit is currently being put together by Lori Durante, a freelance fashion stylist for area magazines who got a taste of curatorial work putting together an exhibit on Barbie that’s currently on display at the Cornell Museum in Delray Beach, located in Palm Beach County.
The fashion museum is set to open in September, when the Barbie exhibit will move in. The denim exhibit, planned to open in 2001, will be the first new exhibit the museum will host, according to Durante.
Durante said her primary curatorial interest is in pop culture and after the success of the Barbie exhibit, which she said drew over 16,000 people, she wanted to produce an exhibit on denim’s place in American culture. Noting that she wanted to document the different roles that denim has played in people’s wardrobe, she added that she hopes to chronicle “how it became a part of people’s lifestyles.”
Durante plans to include old pairs of jeans, photographs of denim on farm workers, painters and mechanics, as well as old advertisements, in the exhibit.
The museum, currently under construction, will occupy 7,000 square feet.

Turkish Delight
K24, a Turkish jeans brand that hit the U.S. last year, is trying to broaden its reach.
In an interview last week at the company’s Manhattan showroom, Aphrodite Alexandopoulos, who heads up the brand’s sales efforts, said the brand hopes to expand its distribution from its current base of 50 specialty stores to 150 by the end of the summer.
K24 kept its initial distribution small so that it could quickly adjust the jeans to appeal to American shoppers.
“We got a lot of feedback from retailers, including that they were sized too small,” said Irene Kandhorov, who designs the line and also owns the Austin Jeans store in Forest Hills, N.Y.
In response to those comments, Kandhorov both beefed up the jeans’ sizes from their initial European cut and decided to stick a card reading “Pull Me Out” in the hip pocket of the jeans to advise consumers to purchase a size larger than they typically would.
The company, which produces a narrow assortment of juniors’ and misses’ jeans styles, is trying to maintain an exclusive image. To do that, Alexandopoulos said, it will continue to honor the five-mile exclusivity radius it offered the initial 30 boutiques that picked up the line and will offer new customers a two-mile exclusivity radius.
The company, which owns factories in Turkey, produces four styles of jeans and introduces new fabrics every three months. Its wholesale prices start at $26, with a suggested retail price of $59.