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Colin’s Jeans Ready to Shout

NEW YORK — The Turkish jeans brand Colin’s Jeanswear, a recent arrival to the U.S. market, is preparing to trumpet its name in a spring consumer ad campaign.

The line got its start in Istanbul in the Eighties and made its U.S. debut a little more than two years ago, though it first started shipping significant volumes of merchandise this summer for the back-to-school season, said Mark Schulman, vice president of sales.

“We’re trying to just support our retail distribution and give the consumer the sense there’s another denim line out there and it should be paid attention to,” Schulman said.

The firm plans to run prints ads in publications such as Elle, Elle Girl, Cosmo Girl, Lucky and Teen Vogue. (Like WWD, Lucky and Teen Vogue are owned by Advance Publications.) In addition to the print ads, due to break in early spring, the company plans to run radio ads in the New York, Southern California and St. Louis markets.

Colin’s Jeanswear employs about 6,000 people worldwide, with the biggest concentration in its Turkish factories. Its global revenues exceed $250 million, including sales of the Colin’s branded products and of goods the firm manufactures for other major brands. It operates 150 branded stores in Turkey and Eastern Europe.

In the U.S., wholesale prices range from $32 to $40 for contemporary jeans, and the line also includes denim skirts and jackets. Schulman said the firm’s best-selling U.S. styles include a stretch flared cut with a seven-inch rise and a rigid style with an intricate wash the company calls the “Izmir.” The brand is on track to hit the $10 million sales mark in the U.S. next year.

Colin’s U.S. operations are focused solely on selling its branded products and are headed by Umit Eroglu, son of Sitki Eroglu, one of the five brothers who run the company in Istanbul.

Turkey is home to a sizable apparel industry that was the U.S.’s 19th-ranked supplier of imported textiles and garments in the 12 months through August. The industry in Turkey has sought to carve a niche that reflects the country’s geographic position, as well — between the high-priced, high-quality factories of Europe and the high-volume, low-cost producers of the Far East.

This story first appeared in the October 28, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Over the last few years, a number of Turkish lines have sought to mimic Mavi, which has developed a strong following in the U.S. and Europe. For Colin’s, Schulman acknowledged, it’s part of an effort to ensure the firm isn’t overly reliant on contract production after the 148 nations of the World Trade Organization drop quotas on textiles and apparel Jan. 1.

“If we can develop a much higher percentage of doing our own brands, the better it is for the company,” Schulman said. — Scott Malone

Roma Makes Moderate Push

NEW YORK — The Leo Roma jeans brand is launching for holiday retailing, aiming to attracting moderate shoppers with higher-end looks.

“We’re reaching the girl who will spend $78 on jeans, not $200, but still wants high-end fashions,” said Jay Sherman, vice president of Leo Roma, the three-month-old denim brand owned by Apollo Jeans Inc.

Sherman undercuts even that $78 mark — a relative dead zone in denim — as the line’s wholesale prices range from $18 to $24.

He argues the brand is able to offer better bang for the buck because of its manufacturing process. It buys Italian denim — mostly with spandex for stretch — and ships it to its company-owned factory in China, which handles assembly and washing.

“These jeans have more of an Italian look than a domestic look,” said Sherman. “We pay attention to detail.”

Leo Roma will hit moderate-priced specialty boutiques and department stores nationwide by the end of next month. Apollo Jeans Inc., the parent company, also produces moderate-priced private label jeans, activewear and outerwear for department stores.

“The girl who wears Leo Roma is just starting out in her career and wants a more expensive look than maybe she can afford,” said Sherman.

The company is predicting the brand’s wholesale volume will reach $4.5 million in its first year. Currently, the line consists of pants, skirts, capris and skorts. Sherman said the focus is on clean, simple styles. “That’s what people want these days,” said Sherman.

Consumers also want some bling, so Sherman, along with Leon Chaaya, president of Leo Roma, and Morris Alfaks, founder, decided to include rhinestone and reptile-skin belts attached to some styles of jeans.

“Belts give the jeans added value,” said Paul Broder, vice president of sales for Apollo Jeans Inc. “It comes down to quality, fit, wash and price.”
— Lauren DeCarlo

Whiskey Jeans: Bottoms Up

DALLAS — To the casual tippler, the difference between a cheap whisky and a fine-aged one may be hard to notice. But true connoisseurs are often ready to plunk down triple-digit amounts to pay for the good stuff.

The jeans business is a lot like that these days, and it’s an analogy that’s not lost on Yaakov Wolf, who has turned to the spirits world for inspiration for a new line: Whiskey Jeans.

“There are a lot of brands in the same price range and not much that separates them,” said Wolf, who expects to begin shipping the line to retailers this weekend. “The better end is too commercial. We want a customer who doesn’t want the same jean as anybody else.”

Whiskey is a contemporary-fitting line of jeans made of soft, ring-spun Japanese or Italian denim with a 4-inch rise, a $300 price tag and lot of quirky details. Each pair sports a couple of random copper splotches symbolizing drops. Each also has a scrap of hand-drawn art tacked inside the back waistband, and many bear thoughtful quotations by such luminaries as Pablo Picasso and Victor Hugo. They are inscribed discreetly down the outside leg, such as Thomas Jefferson’s “I feel therefore I exist.”

The women’s and men’s jeans are easily identified by the word “Whiskey,” which is embroidered along the back of the waistband, and a spiky W pleated onto the rear pockets. Each pair is packaged in a wooden whisky-bottle box. The line wholesales for $130 to $140.

“We want a jean that fits, is comfortable and is a look,” Wolf said.

Wolf was a partner with Uri Harkham for six years in Jonathan Martin girls’ sleepwear. Though Harkham is not a partner in Whiskey, the brand currently shares offices with Jonathan Martin in New York and Los Angeles, but Wolf plans to open separate showrooms in December.

Wolf projected Whiskey’s first-year sales will reach $300,000 to $400,000. “We want to limit it and sell to the right stores that will hold the price point,” he noted.

Shown last week at FashionCenterDallas, Whiskey’s first deliveries are scheduled for Oct. 30. The line also offers short and long denim skirts wholesaling for $100, leather jackets at $400, logo tanks and T-shirts at $40 and a fox-fur poncho for $450. All garments are made in Vernon, Calif.

Future jeans will be randomly shot through with 22-caliber bullets by one of Wolf’s pals, who owns a pistol range in Los Angeles. Plans also call for placed screen prints of whisky-related images, such as barrels and caps. Wolf’s wife, Daniella Wolf, is the designer.

Wolf claims he adds a shot of whisky to every denim wash and any buyer checking out the line is sure to be offered a toot.

“I love whisky — Bushmills is my favorite,” Wolf said. “If anybody comes to my house, I only have whisky in the liquor cabinet.” — Holly Haber