DENIM DISH

Guess Rolls On
Continuing its aggressive retail rollout, Guess Inc. recently opened a flagship store in Chicago. A spokeswoman also revealed that the company plans to lift the curtain on two additional flagships, on New York’s Fifth Avenue and on San Francisco’s Grant Avenue, in September.
The Chicago unit is a 12,600-square-foot location located at 605 Michigan Avenue and the 16th store Guess has opened this year.
The Los Angeles-based company has said it plans to open about 60 stores in 2000, which will boost its total store count to 200.
The Chicago store features bleached wood, glass and stainless steel fixtures which are intended to evoke the laid-back feel of Guess’s clothing. It opened June 28, in time for the July 4 holiday weekend.
“We are very excited about the Michigan Avenue store and feel it is a solid foundation for other Guess locations to come,” said co-chairman and co-chief executive officer Paul Marciano, in a statement.
Altogether, the company plans to open 25 full-price retail stores, 10 factory outlets, 10 children’s stores and 15 Canadian units this year.
Guess has made the retail rollout a high priority for 2000. Its retail division grew substantially last year, seeing a 34 percent increase in sales to $299 million and a 27 percent rise in comp-store sales.

Their Name, Your Jeans
Based on the strength of the overall jeans classification and the causal looks in its core bridge sportswear line, Votre Nom is launching a VN Jeans collection for fall, according to David Guez, president.
The move was partly motivated to craft the Paris-based Votre Nom collection into a more sharply focused line, as Guez said it has become critical in bridge not to fill stores with overdesigned collections, but rather to focus on key trends and looks.
“The way we present the collection is more selective,” Guez said. “We are not looking to squeeze a hot color to death or show a hot style in dozens of colors. Right now, that’s not the trend. The trend is to have a point of view and to offer one or two looks of the strongest color, not five.
“We are selling more product than brand today,” he said. “I wish it was the other way, but you have to call a spade a spade.”
Among the looks that Guez predicted will be strong at retail from VN Jeans are velvet and pleather jeans printed to look like snakeskin. From the Votre Nom line, he said solid microfiber looks are beginning to come back even in the face of overwhelming retail support for natural luxury fibers.
Votre Nom is also opening its second U.S. store that will carry both collections in the Americana in Manhasset, N.Y., in August, joining an existing store in Beverly Hills, Calif., and five in Paris.

Designs CFO Exits
Designs Inc., which has undergone management upheaval over the past year, said Kenneth F. Rogers Jr., senior vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer, has resigned to accept a position at a privately held company.
Rogers’s responsibilities for the 106-unit retailer of Levi Strauss merchandise will be assumed by Shelly E. Mokas, vice president and controller, while a search for a successor is undertaken. Rogers had been cfo only since February and joined the firm last November as vice president and special assistant to the chief executive officer.
Last year, a proxy battle initiated by Jewelcor Management, which owns 15 percent of Designs stock, resulted in the exit of previous management, including chief executive officer Joel H. Reichman. In April, David Levin, formerly executive vice president of retail strategy at eOutlets.com, a Prime Retail subsidiary, became president and ceo. Designs’ July sales increased 8.3 percent to $16.9 million, with same-store sales ahead 2 percent.
“We are encouraged, but cautiously optimistic with our comparable stores sales increase for June,” said Levin in a statement. “We are extremely excited with the performance of our new stores in Puerto Rico; Orlando, Fla., and Nashville, Tenn. In addition, we have experienced dramatic increases in sales for the 10 stores remodeled in 1999 and 2000.” Another six remodels are set for the rest of this year. The stores include overruns, product specifically made for the outlets, and discontinued lines and irregulars bought directly from Levi Strauss. In the quarter ended April 29, Designs, based in Needham, Mass., cut its losses to $474,000 from $863,000. Sales dipped 1.4 percent to $39.4 million.

Nautica’s Scary Spokesmodel
Signing its first celebrity spokesmodel turned out not to be such a scary experience for Nautica Jeans Co. The company apparently lucked out when it signed up-and-coming actress Shannon Elizabeth to star in its fall advertising campaign for its new women’s jeans line.
Elizabeth’s current film, “Scary Movie,” broke box-office records for R-rated movies last weekend by grossing an estimated $42.5 million.
In a phone interview from Hollywood, where she was working on her next film, a romantic comedy called “Tom Cats,” Elizabeth said she was surprised by the movie’s success.
“It’s amazing. It’s really exciting. Who would have thought that it would have made that much money?” she said.
Particularly ironic, she noted, was the fact that the movie grossed higher in its initial weekend than the three “Scream” movies, the horror films that “Scary Movie” parodies.
In preparation for “Tom Cats,” in which she plays a vice cop, Elizabeth said she’s been doing a lot of research on police work, riding along with local officers and learning the proper techniques for cuffing suspects and firing pistols.
While Elizabeth, who made her big-screen debut in last year’s hit flick “American Pie,” said she’s happy with her three major film projects so far, but hopes to expand her horizons beyond the world of comedy.
“I want to do drama and thrillers,” she said. “I want everything. I’m not limiting myself to any one type of movie.”
Nautica’s women’s jeans collection is to hit stores late this month.

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