Levi’s Parsons Project
Jeans and fine art don’t usually intersect — unless you’re a student at New York’s Parsons School of Design.
A group of 17 Parsons students was given Levi’s as raw material to create art. They collaborated on a dozen design projects that will be displayed at Levi’s Manhattan showroom tonight in an exhibit called “12 Conditions.”
Michael Robinson, the Parsons advanced studio design instructor who gave the assignment, explained that he had his junior class work on 501s because he needed to assign the students a familiar and universal medium. About one-third of Parsons 2,800 degree-track students come from foreign countries.
“Part of the challenge of developing a design program was that you needed to come up with something that everyone could relate to,” he said. “Everybody had worn Levi’s.”
Another project was a joint effort of three students — Susanne Vargarden of Helsingborg, Sweden; N.K. Kang of Pusan, South Korea, and Jihye Jang of Tokyo. It featured two pairs of jeans decorated with gauzy fake flowers inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings of New Mexico.
Nicole Grant, who comes from Sussex County, N.J., said her jeans used masks as their theme. She sewed flaps into the legs, allowing them to open into four sections, each of which held a component of a disguise, including a false tail and Groucho Marx glasses.
Tomoe Yamagata of Osaka, Japan, opted for an interactive theme with her piece. Her plan is for people at the Levi’s event to write wishes on pieces of fabric, which they will pin to the jeans.
Considering how best to have the wishes fulfilled, she said she might set fire to the jeans at the end of tonight’s event, a plan that provoked nervous glances at the sprinkler heads on the part of a Levi’s spokesman.
— Scott Malone
Mavi Moves Up
Mavi Jeans is relocating its U.S. headquarters to 550 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. The new space, which takes up the entire 23rd floor of the building, measures about 6,900 square feet. It will serve as a showroom for the Mavi brand and its higher-end counterpart, Nomad. The company will move in by the end of July from its previous location at 499 Seventh Avenue, which covered about 3,000 square feet.
“This is only the first step in our efforts to reinforce Mavi as a young contemporary brand,” said David Frankel, president of Mavi Jeans U.S. “With the expansion of our offerings and increase in business, we need the space.”
The interior design of the showroom is based on a modern Mediterranean look, featuring bright white walls, intense natural light and a color scheme of blue, white and neutral that fits well with denim. The loft-like space was designed by the Otto Design Group. — J.G.
Harlow’s New Glamour
Ron Gelfuso, co-founder of Mavi Jeans U.S., is launching Harlow Jeans for fall retailing. The new line is based on his appreciation for old Hollywood glamour and extensive knowledge of the denim market.
Gelfuso, who sold his stake in Mavi last year to begin the new line, is president of sales at Harlow Jeans. He said the first collection consists of basic five-pocket styles in clean washes made with stretch denim. He is testing a small sampling of the line in seven denim specialty stores across the country, such as in E Street Denim in Chicago and Jean Connection in Dallas.
“My idea was to launch a line that was romantic and glamorous, without being over-the-top,” Gelfuso said. “The jeans are very modern in fit, but the washes are kept simple and elegant, and they are made to fit comfortably, but with a curvy woman in mind.”
One style, called the Ali jeans, is a boot-cut style with a 6 3/4-inch rise, available in antique, vintage or dark washes. Another style, the Bridget, is made with a tucked-in knee and flare bottom. The five-pocket style with a 6 1/2-inch rise is also available in either antique, vintage or dark washes. Other styles include a denim miniskirt, stretch corduroy trousers in colors such as tan and rose, a denim cargo capri and a selection of denim jackets.
Gelfuso said the line wholesales for $40 to $62, a more accessible price within the higher-end denim segment.
Gelfuso said he expects to reach $2 million in first-year sales. Harlow is owned by Gals Textiles, which also is the parent company for Lila, a contemporary line based in New York.
— Julee Greenberg