JUST WHITE

Byline: Roxanne Robinson

NEW YORK — Forget Miss Manners’ hard-and-fast rules about never wearing white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. White denim is fast becoming a seasonless fabric, and manufacturers are offering it well past summer deliveries and into holiday.
At Calvin Klein, white denim with a “destructed” finish was a huge part of summer 2000, and it’s returning for holiday 2000-2001. Nautica Jeans is also pushing white forward for holiday, giving it a subtle ecru tinge finished with beige stitching and western detailing.
Paulette McReady, president of Nautica Enterprises, said that while designers typically use black as a base color for holiday collections, the switch to white was simply a way to offer the customer something different. “It’s fresh and new to see white in wintertime,” she says. “Having whites and creams in wintertime is one of those unexpected things.” She also noted that putting out white versions of items that have sold well during past holiday seasons — for example, leather pants — makes it possible for shoppers to pick up something they don’t already have in their closets.
As is the case with stonewashes, dark rinses and black denim, white has become a basic that many jeans makers are keeping in their collections, regardless of the season. “White is really expanding and growing in importance,” said Maggie Winkel, women’s merchandise manager for the Levi’s brand. “We used to do it for a few short months, but now we offer it for eight to nine months — starting in November and December with holiday and going all the way through July.” While they aren’t offering it for fall, Winkel said that they are considering doing so in the future. She also noted that the company reevaluated its “white standard” about 1 1/2 years ago and is now offering what she describes as “a cleaner, more optic white.”

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