Now Under Construction: Maviland

This story first appeared in the June 27, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

When jeans brand Mavi set its fall 2001 ad campaigns in “Maviland,” it tossed U.S. consumers a bit of a red herring in that there was no such place. But in late August, the company expects to open a spot in Manhattan on lower Broadway that just might qualify.

Mavi America Sportswear plans to open a 3,500-square-foot, two-floor store two blocks south of Union Square, executive vice president Ron Gelfuso told WWD.

“It’s really to bring credibility and enhance the value of the brand and to give support to those points of sale that we already have,” he said. “We get a lot of e-mail from people who want to go to a store.”

While this will be the first company-owned and -operated Mavi store, it won’t be the first retail location to fly the Mavi banner. In the late Nineties, the company supported a store run by an independent owner on Watt Street in SoHo that in 1999 later moved to Broome Street. That store closed in 2002, Gelfuso said.

The Broadway location isn’t the only retail site Mavi is considering, he added. Mavi aims to open a store in Vancouver shortly after the Broadway flagship, and the Turkish-owned company is also looking at sites in Germany. But the plan is not to expand too much beyond that.

“It’s not at all to become a new Gap or even do what Diesel has done,” he added.

Diesel opened 21 stores around the world last year, raising its total store count to more than 60, as part of an effort to reach a 50-50 split between wholesale and retail distribution, as reported.

Gelfuso said Mavi would open up space on the store’s lower level to show the works and performances of neighborhood artists.

“We’ve begun to look at bringing in amateur artists’ artwork, poetry and DJs, so that this store will become more enmeshed in the community,” he said.

Diesel’s Retail Blackmail

While it’s not quite a strong-arm approach, Diesel USA Inc. has what it hopes will be a very visible plan to push its main fashion message for back-to-school retailing: black denim.

Beginning at the end of next month, its stores and about 60 key accounts are set to feature a window display called “Blackmail.”

“It will look like a secret office, with all the paper and black-and-white imagery,” said Maurizio Marchioni, vice president of marketing for the Italian company’s U.S. arm, which has its main office in New York. “The idea is coming from the product because we want to relaunch black jeans…and it has some irony around it.”

Diesel has been in the midst of an aggressive expansion of its retail presence over the past year, with an eventual goal of splitting its worldwide unit sales evenly between wholesale and retail. The company currently operates 19 stores in the U.S. and plans to open three more this year, including a unit in San Francisco’s Castro district.

Delia’s B-T-S Blues

On its summer vacation, teen retailer Delia’s is preparing a denim push for back-to-school.

The New York-based company, which operates 54 stores as well as a catalog and online business, is using this b-t-s season to highlight its fashion staple: jeans. According to Hilary Chasin, executive vice president of marketing at Delia’s, the company’s research has found that teens want to see more denim from Delia’s.

“Once a teen finds a denim fit that she likes, she becomes loyal,” Chasin said. “Teens will have up to 16 pairs of jeans at one time. It’s a staple in their wardrobes.”

Delia’s has created a denim program, highlighting the company’s new fits, styles and packaging. The largest of the three jeans collections is basic denim. The basics retail for $29.90 and feature the chain’s daisy logo — which the brand uses as an asterisk in its logo on catalogs and labels — on the button, rivets, rear patch and on a tab on the side of the back pocket. The jeans also come with a bookmark tucked inside a pocket flasher that offers details on the line’s new fits, like the sculpted-waist flare with a lower rise in the front than in the back. The company is also producing its new basics in a 12-ounce denim instead of the 10-ounce fabric used last year. Washes include a clay and antique sandblast.

The second denim line is the core fashion collection. Retailing between $38 and $48, this line consists of five styles that fit a bit lower than the basics and are available in flares and boot-cuts.

The novelty denim line will feature trends including embroidery, ripped pockets, a bleached-out crease and lace-ups. Novelty denim retails between $42 and $48. The two fashion lines will come with a rubber logo key chain attached to the belt loop.

All basics will be showcased on a wall in stores with the core fashion and novelty fashion line in front of the wall on tables and on hangers.

With its revamped denim, Delia’s plans to launch a new marketing strategy and slogan: “Live in denim. Don’t forget to write.” The retailer is encouraging teens to write in through its Web site or the mail with stories of their jeans. A national print ad campaign is planned to begin in August, running in Seventeen, YM, Lucky and American Cheerleader magazines.

Dockers’ European Mission

Dockers is out to convert European workers to American casual style. Reprising a 14-city tour it ran in America last year that was designed to inform workers how to dress chic but casual for work, Dockers has kicked off a similar tour in Europe that will travel to Germany, Belgium, France, the U.K. and Holland over the coming months.

Karim Bouhajeb, marketing director for Dockers in France, said Dockers would run the tour through the fall.

“We’ve found that Europeans like similar styles to Americans,” said Bouhajeb. “They want to be comfortable, but sharp at work. Comfort in the workplace increases productivity.”

As part of the tour, Dockers distributes a guidebook to human resource departments and holds daylong demonstrations for interested employees. It offers discounts at its stores to those who visit the demonstrations.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback,” said Bouhajeb. The tour kicked off in France, visiting petrol giant Total Fina Elf, carmaker Peugeot and liqueur company Pernod.

Still Awaiting Confirmation

To Be Confirmed, the denim trade show that made its U.S. debut in New York in January, is planning for a return visit.

Originally held in London in February 2000, this season’s New York show will be held at 601 West 26th Street from July 21-22. While the last show was focused heavily on men’s wear, organizers said there would be a larger representation of women’s wear this time. Overall, 80 brands are expected to show their spring-summer 2003 wares.

Set in a smaller atmosphere than most other trade shows, show founder Markus Klosseck said the idea for To Be Confirmed came from buyers in Europe who complained about maze-like aisles and over-the-top booths at larger trade shows. To Be Confirmed combines design, music, cocktails, food and entertainment in a minimal and logo-free environment where vendors are only permitted to use a small sign as advertisements for their brands.”

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