When it comes to denim and rock ‘n’ roll, few people make the connection more personally than Michael Houghton, who is launching a denim line, DeHoughton, for fall selling.
But his entrance into the premium denim sector is by no means his first in the business.
His story started in upstate New York, where he grew up as a neighbor and best friend of the Hilfiger family. As a teen, he formed a rock band with Andy Hilfiger that he still plays local gigs with, and he began learning about the fashion business from Tommy Hilfiger.
As adults, Andy Hilfiger and Houghton moved to Manhattan and became part of the downtown rock scene, playing in local bars and clubs. Houghton soon landed recording contracts with Columbia Records and Sony, but eventually decided to focus on his own clothing line, Michael H, which is a collection of made-to-order apparel for a select group of famous rockers. Today, the Michael H business is still thriving and Houghton continues to design one-of-a-kind pieces for the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and David Bowie.
But, Houghton said, “Andy said that if I wanted to make this a career, I had to launch a line that can be sold in stores.”
So, with advice from Andy, DeHoughton was born. The line, which is made for women but can be worn by “slimmer rock star-like men,” contains a variety of boot-cut and straight-leg jeans and a style with skinny legs that have a slight flare at the opening to fit around the shoe. There are also denim, leather and ponyskin jackets and an array of graphic T-shirts and tank tops.
Houghton prides himself on the intricate details that go into each piece. For example, the interior waistband of the jeans is lined with a soft velvet material to make the jeans easier to slide on and more comfortable in the waist. The same velvet can be found at the leg opening and around the interior opening of the pockets. Each pair comes with a small vile of thread for shortening the jeans. And printed on the inside of the jeans and a few jackets is a Hindu prayer that Houghton believes will bring the wearer good luck.
“It’s a prayer that’s supposed to bring calm and peacefulness,” said Houghton, pointing out a tattoo on his arm with that same prayer. “Everyone can use a little calming.”
The DeHoughton line wholesales from $39 for a T-shirt to $500 for a leather jacket. The Michael H line ranges from $1,500 to $25,000, depending on the materials. Houghton said he was targeting high-end specialty stores worldwide and expects $2 million to $3 million in first-year sales.