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Spinning a Lucky Number

Starting a new business is always a gamble, but Frank Mechaly and Shaun Hurley believe they’re on a roll.

Their latest venture, 575 Denim, takes its name from roulette numbers the duo hit on one of their trips to Las Vegas.

“They’re proving to be our lucky numbers,” Hurley said.

They shipped the first batch of the brand last month and some retailers report they’ve already sold out.

“We have none left and we’re anxiously awaiting our next shipment,” said Lindsey Margolin, store manager at Miami boutique Lulu, which operates five stores. “We got one style in and it flew out of our stores in less than a week. It’s got an amazing fit.”

So far, the line has booked $2 million in orders from roughly 60 retailers. Distribution deals have opened markets in Spain, Italy, France and Japan.

Many of their connections stemmed from their days at Sacred Blue. Mechaly came to the U.S. from his native France two years ago to start that line.

He brought a strong denim pedigree: His father is David Mechaly, who, along with his wife, Caroline Athias, launched Blue Cult jeans five years ago. The elder Mechaly is also known for the sensation he caused in the Seventies when he launched Mac Keen, a line of a skintight jeans that was worn on the TV show “Charlie’s Angels.” Sacred Blue continues to operate under the Blue Cult corporate umbrella.

Hurley joined Sacred Blue as the sales manager and its first employee. His previous stints include jobs as a buyer for Gap Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch and fit modeling for Levi Strauss.

The 575 Denim line features Japanese and Italian denim jeans in heavy washes, with acid-looking finishes. Paint splatters, rips and hand-grinding are some of the line’s handiwork.

The three cuts — a low-rise boot cut and a baggy, boy-style capri and full-length jean — feature buttons made of old pennies and engraved with 575. They also have the signature 575 embroidered on the right back pocket and on the waistband, as well as knee patches. There are four skirts in mini, midlength and long styles. All styles wholesale for around $90. — Nola Sarkisian-Miller

This story first appeared in the February 3, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Shagg Appeal

It turns out Sally Hershberger knows more than just hair — she’s a denim aficionado, too, and is launching her own line.

The noted hairstylist’s first collection, Shagg Downtown, will hit shelves for fall retailing.

“I dream about clothes,” Hershberger said.

Shagg Downtown is a full denim and T-shirt line for women and men. The women’s collection includes five styles made from dark Turkish denim, including a basic five pocket, a bondage style, classic straight leg, a flared Seventies-inspired number and a fitted sailor style.

“I’ve always been obsessed with jeans and Ts,” Hershberger said. “I was always trying to find the hip-huggers that had the right height in the waist and I was always redoing my tees to make them tighter and the sleeves shorter.”

Hershberger said she started to think about the line seriously about six months ago, noting, “It just had to do with timing.”

The denim collection, she said, is heavily inspired by punk rock and influenced by trendsetters such as David Bowie, Suzi Quatro and Siouxsie Sioux.

“I wanted them to fit like a girdle,” she said. “I didn’t want a lot of stretch and I’m not really into whiskers.”

For the collection, Hershberger is collaborating with her friends, film writer and director Steven Antin and fashion stylist Lori Goldstein.

Hershberger isn’t retiring her scissors just yet. She said the launch of her own denim collection seemed to be the next logical step in her career. “Whenever I was on shoots, cutting hair, people were always grabbing at my jeans and Ts, yelling, ‘Where’d you get that?’”

While a Hershberger haircut costs roughly $600, most of her jeans won’t be quite that pricy at retail. The denim collection will wholesale in the range of $85 to $125, and the wholesale price range of T-shirts is between $40 to $65. There are one or two styles in the denim collection that will wholesale between $300 and $350, which could retail for more than $600.

The collection will be sold in better department and specialty stores. Sales for the first year are expected to top $1 million. — Lauren DeCarlo

Showtime for Habitual

The Los Angeles-based jeans company Habitual plans to show its fall-winter collection Saturday at 495 Broadway in New York, in a show sponsored by Hewlett-Packard.

Michael Colovos, who cofounded the line with his wife, Nicole Garrett, said the line will feature more than just denim.

“We’re definitely broadening the fabrics a bit more,” he said. “In addition to our denim, we’re doing silk, leather and tweed.”

Nicole Garrett said, “Michael has worked with all those fabrics in the past, so we’re just trying to incorporate different things.”

In October, Habitual received a $50,000 runner-up prize at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund awards.

“Through the encouragement of [Vogue editor in chief] Anna Wintour, we decided to do the show,” Garrett said.

In addition to new denim designs, Colovos said the show will feature leather and silk tops, tailored jackets, shoes and accessories. The couple shares design duties. The wholesale price range of the fall-winter collection is between $80 and $120.

Every season, Colovos incorporates a mantra into the collection. This year, the theme is “Receive.” The word itself will be sewn into the inside piping of jackets and in other subtle locations. — L.D.

Kenzie Jumps Into Jeans

Kenzie, the Vancouver-based junior brand, has major moves planned for 2005 and its first step is a full denim line.

“We jumped on the bandwagon,” said Shelley Rosbrook, sales director for Kenzie. “We’ve done denim skirts and jackets before, but now we’ll have a strong denim group.”

The jeans collection, which launches for spring at WWDMAGIC later this month, has bohemian influences.

“Denim is important in our collection to wear with caftans and florals. It’s soft, not so raw,” said Lani Karls, vice president. “We’re using premium denim and starting with six spring styles in five washes.”

The spring collection will include basic five-pocket jeans in destroyed looks, darker indigo washes and styles with detailed stitching.

“We’re giving the look without the high price,” said Rosbrook, who noted the wholesale price range of the collection is between $34 and $40.

Rosbrook expected wholesale volume of the collection to hit about $1 million in 2005. The line will retail at Kenzie’s Seattle store, as well as in department stores nationwide.

The firm is also planning to open more of its own stores. In April, Kenzie is set to open a 3,600-square-foot unit at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Calif.

“We’re currently negotiating on three leases: one in SoHo in New York and two in California,” Karls said. “We hope to have five more locations by the end of 2005.”

In January, Kenzie signed a deal with Oxford, Pa.-based Jamatex to launch daywear, sleepwear and intimate apparel. — L.D.