View Slideshow

Moving On to Mynk
David Long and John Van De Wiel are bringing the design principles they applied at Jean Paul Da’mage to their latest venture, a new denim and sportswear collection called Mynk.

Long and Van De Wiel founded Da’mage in 2001, but left several months ago after their relationship frayed with the brand’s majority stakeholder, Neema Worldwide. For the Mynk collection, Long and Van De Wiel have the financial backing of Peter Hough, an early investor in True Religion, and Bobby Thompson and Teddy Margulius, who own the THM showroom in Vancouver. Donnie Harrison, Da’mage’s former director of finishing, also has come on board.

Long said his experience with Da’mage, combined with that of his new partners, made fit top priority for the brand’s denim collection.

“Instead of doing embellishments, we spent time in the design room looking at things like pocket placement and design,” Long said. “We really mastered our fits.”

Long believes pockets will be one of the jeans’ defining features. Both front and back pockets have been rounded, which he said achieves a slimming effect in the front.

“In the back, it’s almost flattering, regardless of your butt type,” Long said. “You can tell a pair of Mynk jeans by the pocket design.”

As with Da’mage, Long and Van De Wiel have opted to have everything from fabric production to detailing done domestically. While that increases the cost of production, Long believes there are advantages.

“Part of it is that some of the best craftsman are here in the States,” he said. “That’s where all the business used to be, so there’s a lot of truly skilled craftsman here.”

Domestic production also allows easier tracking of goods and ensures a consistent quality of fit, a particular concern for premium denim.

All-domestic production also lends itself to the brand’s image and marketing. Each of the fits for the initial collection is named for a small town in the Southeast, including the Dulah, a low-rise boot cut; the St. Claire, a cashmere relaxed boot cut; the Smoaks, a low-rise slim fit, and the Elloree, a straight-leg fit. Fits for subsequent seasons will also be named after small towns across the country.

This story first appeared in the May 11, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We just really wanted people to know that this is an American brand,” Long said.

Mynk’s women’s denim collection includes five basic fits and 19 styles, retailing from $225 to $295 for its cashmere jeans. The initial run will be a limited collection of only 4,000 pieces for both the women’s and men’s lines.
Ross Tucker

Gauging the Cultural Impact of Denim
Denim aficionados looking to satisfy their cravings might want to get James Sullivan’s debut book, “Jeans: A Cultural History of an American Icon” (Gotham Books) when it hits shelves Aug. 17.

“The idea of blue jeans is classically American,” said Sullivan, a freelance writer for publications such as Rolling Stone and the Boston Globe. “The idea had been done before, but it had only been done in coffee table-type books where the text and history was secondary.”

Sullivan had covered consumer culture at the San Francisco Chronicle for seven years when he had the idea to write the book that follows America’s love of denim over the past 150 years — from $2 “work pants” to its current incarnation as a status symbol that may cost $250 or more.

“Every generation has been able to take blue jeans and make it their own,” said Sullivan, citing hippies in the Sixties and hip-hop kids in the early Nineties. “[Jeans] cover so many aspects of American culture. It has something to say about class, gender and generational issues.”

Sullivan interviewed denim collectors and designers, as well as fashion analysts and editors. He approached this book not from a fashion standpoint, but from a culturally relevant point of view.

“I’m a pop culture guy,” he said.

Sullivan said denim’s growth in the women’s market was something that particularly intrigued him.

“Ever since blue jeans were invented, they were created with men in mind,” he said. “When women started wearing jeans in the Thirties and Forties, they wore their boyfriends’ jeans. Only in the past seven or eight years has it been driven with women in mind.”
Lauren DeCarlo

Faro Ready to Rupture
After 15 years of manufacturing denim for brands such as Levi’s, Gap, Old Navy and Abercrombie & Fitch, Colombia-based Faro Group International is bringing its expertise to the company’s own line of limited-edition premium denim.

Faro’s Rupture Jeans will bow this summer, aiming to set itself apart by emphasizing fit for curvy women and a high level of detail.

“We wanted a challenge,” said Maria Correa, Rupture’s fashion director, of the company’s decision to launch the line. “Right now you can see there are a lot of brands doing a lot of beautiful things. We think we have the talent and the structure to do that. We have the fabrics, the trims and we have the good design.”

For the spring and summer collection, Rupture will offer 20 to 25 styles, which include basic jeans, jackets and skirts. Rupture is also looking to key in on the typical premium denim wearer’s often insatiable appetite for anything exclusive by making only 500 pieces of each style.

Each Rupture collection will present a story or theme that serves as the inspiration for the brand’s overall look. It’s a strategy that Correa said helps avoid having to tout only new finishes and fabrics each season, which can confuse buyers. For the first collection the brand has focused on an “Alice in Wonderland” theme. For fall and winter, the theme is beauty.

“The consumer right now wants to be unique,” Correa said. “We are offering those little details on each piece that make you get in love with it.”

The U.S. consumers’ attention to a jeans’ detail work is one of the things Correa said distinguishes Americans from the typical Colombian.

“Women in Colombia, they want to feel very sexy,” Correa said. “Here, the body has to look really good. Here, fit is the main thing. In the States, they appreciate the design and the details.”

The initial collection was constructed from a combination of Australian, Indian, Japanese and Turkish denim, while the winter collection will feature denim from Turkey, Japan and Spain. The line’s three basic fits are the Hook, a mid-rise boot cut; the needle, a high-waist skinny-leg style, and Scissors, a low-cut flare. The brand retails for $150 to $200.
R.T.

Lee Cooper Unveils Platinum Line
Lee Cooper is showing its precious side with the launch of a new premium “Platinum” collection. The British denim brand unveiled its upscale line for women and men in Paris last week.

“We wanted to make a statement that made the industry sit up and think about Lee Cooper again,” said creative director Tim Brown.

Retailing for 120 euros to 160 euros, or $153 to $204, the collection aims to provide premium yet price-conscious denim.

“We have achieved our goal with this collection, to offer designer products with lifestyle value,” said chief executive officer Ajay Khaitan.

Inspired by British heraldry, the collection boasts iconography such as lions and crowns, hand-written logos, mother-of-pearl buttons and a distinctive platinum-colored threading on skinny styles or boot-cut fits. Dark or elaborate washes come in a new X-Fit 360 Degree Stretch Denim fabric from Lycra. The line also includes T-shirts, shirts, knitwear and accessories.
Emilie Marsh