Armani Jeans: Get Them Wholesale

Armani Group plans to start offering wholesale distribution of its A|J Armani Jeans line in the U.S. for fall retailing. Previously, the line had been sold in the U.S. only through Emporio Armani stores.

The Italian company will show its first American wholesale jeans collection at its New York showroom Jan. 24 to Feb. 28. Sales will be targeted at better department stores and select specialty stores, according to Robert Triefus, a vice president at Armani Group.

“We’ve always been very cautious about the growth of the jeans business. We feel, in some cases, jeans have been overdistributed by other houses,” he said, declining to offer sales projections. “We’re not looking to overdistribute this collection. It’s going to be sold through upscale department stores, very selectively, to begin with.”

The denim-based line, which includes jeans, tops, pants, dresses and skirts, is produced by Armani’s Simint manufacturing division. Sales will be handled by the company’s existing American workforce. Wholesale prices for jeans will run from $40 to $65.

Triefus added that the launch will be supported by a fall consumer advertising campaign. A|J Armani Jeans also plans to sponsor an upcoming American tour by U.K. rhythm & blues recording artist Craig David.

Take Two for YM Mega-Denim

The producers of the Girls Rule show and YM magazine have teamed up to produce an all-denim show at next months’ New York fashion week to be called YM Mega-Denim.

This event had first been scheduled for Sept. 11 during New York’s last fashion week. However, it was canceled, along with the rest of the 7th on Sixth events, following the destruction of the World Trade Center.

The show is to feature looks from Levi’s Premium Red Tab and Juniors Red Tab, Todd Oldham Jeans, Stephen Hardy for Squeeze and three brands being sponsored by DuPont Lycra: Adriano Goldschmeid, DDC Lab and Hippie Jeans. That is the same lineup that had been planned in September.

“Until now, these companies had no presence during Fashion Week, despite their enormous volume,” said producer Darren Greenblatt of O&D Productions, which is producing the show. “Fashion does not always trickle down, but also trickles up.”

Hair products used in the show will be provided by Redken, with makeup from Jane Cosmetics.

Tattoo Treatment

Tattoo artists call their trade “pushing ink.” The tattoo idea has got jeans buyers spreading a little ink of their own on order forms the past few months.

Since launching in November, the new denim collection Blue Tattoo, which features tattoo-like designs placed on denim, has booked $500,000 in orders, according to owners Marie Kennedy Shaffer and husband, Jim. They said the line is on track to do $3 million in its first year, riding the mania for novelty denim.

The line includes stretch and rigid denim, railroad-striped denim and a reverse wash that’s dark on thigh fronts and other areas manufacturers traditionally lighten. Bodies include a boot cut and a low-rise flare. Wholesale prices range from $39 for a railroad-striped capri to $67 for tattooed jeans. The line also includes twill styles, slim-fitting denim vests and tank tops with pen-and-ink style sketches, such as a vintage-looking gangster’s face.

Details like copper rivets, yellow and brown stitching and a flag sewn inside the waistband give the label a vintage Americana feel.

Kennedy Shaffer said she and her husband have been planning to launch a collection for years, tapping into her decade-long experience as denim buyer for Fred Segal-Ron Herman and his photography for motorcycle publications. They delayed Blue Tattoo’s launch to focus on growing Hard Tail Jeans, to which they hold the license.

Blue Tattoo’s distribution includes Nordstrom’s Savvy department, Lone Star in Plainview, N.Y., On Beverly in Los Angeles and Fred Segal Santa Monica.

Sharon Segal, who owns a namesake denim boutique at Fred Segal Santa Monica, said she plans to add a Blue Tattoo shop alongside installments for Diesel and Lucky. She cited the tattoo styles — featuring a rose, Chinese characters, koi fish and a dragon — as particularly appealing.

“The way the tattoo came out is so perfect,” she said. “They look a little bit faded, instead of looking contrived.”

Avondale Takes Loss

Hurt by the falloff in apparel buying since September and a $6.5 million charge related to plant closings, denim mill Avondale Inc. recorded an $8.4 million net loss for its first quarter ended Nov. 30, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

That compares with net income of $4.8 million in the prior-year quarter. Sales for the quarter dropped 25.7 percent, to $140.1 million.

The privately held, Monroe, Ga.-based company discloses its financial results because of public debt.

A sharp drop came in apparel fabrics sales, which were down 23.6 percent, to $120.9 million on volume declines. Yarn sales were off 19.4 percent, to $45.2 million. Other revenues, which include a trucking business, were off 26 percent, to $15.8 million.

Operating income for the apparel fabrics unit fell 74.2 percent, to $5.6 million. The yarn unit stayed in the red, taking a $2.7 million operating loss, compared with a $294,000 operating loss a year earlier.

In the filing, the company said that since September, “apparel producers and retailers targeted production and inventory levels far below those normal for the holiday season.” It added that low-cost imports have eaten into U.S. textile mills’ market share and said: “The company expects these conditions to continue into the second quarter of fiscal 2002, negatively impacting both pricing and unit volume.”

As reported, last fall the company said it would close its Lee, N.C., yarn manufacturing operations, cutting 70 jobs. The filing said that $1.2 million of the $6.5 million in restructuring charges went to severance expenses for those workers.

Oh, Yoko!

Conceptual fashion company Yoko Devereaux has joined forces with Levi’s to produce limited-edition and customized jeans for the Selvedge icon store in New York.

Next month, the store will begin carrying a style of dark denim Levi’s Vintage Clothing jeans that the Devereaux company has souped up with white vertical pinstripes. From the knee down on one leg, the pinstripes will be horizontal.

The jeans are called “Excuses, Excuses,” and feature seven comical alibis that a cheating lover might use, including: “It was just this one time” and “It was purely physical.” Initially, 10 pairs will be made to retail at $450.

“We don’t look for inspiration,” said creative director Andy Salzer, who invented the name Yoko Devereaux. “It’s fashion, we don’t need to get overly intellectual about it.”

The company also plans to sell silk-screened jeans with “Yoko” printed on the front and “Yoko Devereaux” on the back pocket retailing for $450 at Selvedge starting in March. Consumers willing to pony up twice that much can get their own names in the place of Yoko’s.

The designer’s relationship with Selvedge started in July, when the store featured its “The Situation: An Atrocity Exhibition” as an art installation. Those jeans, priced from $350 to $3,500, sold out. – Scott Malone and Joshua Greene with contributions by Katharine Bowers, Los Angeles.