Von Dutch Originals, the line known for its trucker hats and dirty jeans, is looking to trade up into some higher-end products.

This story first appeared in the November 20, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Los Angeles company is getting ready to launch for spring a collection of formal attire, including bridalwear, leather goods and denim. The line, Christian Audigier for Von Dutch, is to have a vibrant, graphic look, according to marketing director Caroline Rothwell. The company initially plans to sell the limited-run items through its retail stores, at prices from $800 to $5,000.

The line, which is named after the late painter who specialized in customizing cars, also has extended its name to a line of motorcycles. The company has partnered with Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based Horsepower & Chrome Inc. to produce made-to-order motorcycles under the Von Dutch Kustom Klassics nameplate. With no two alike, these pricy machines — starting at $70,000 retail — tout top-of-the-line parts, as well as designer touches including signature hand pinstriping and exotic materials. The motorcycle line includes a “Dutch Angel” model in bumblebee yellow that is sized to fit a woman, with seats cut inward to the knee for a more comfortable ride. Plans also call for matching accessories, such as helmets, riding brassieres, chaps and boots, by next year.

“We’ve gotten great exposure with the hats and now we’re looking to tap into other markets,” Rothwell said.

Von Dutch opened a store in Chicago in September, in Miami last week and plans to open a Las Vegas location in December. The new units bring the company’s store count to five.

The company is also experimenting with a new concept called Sample Room by Von Dutch. this 7,000-square-foot loft will be open by appointment during most of the week with public hours on Friday afternoons and Saturdays. Set to open Dec. 15 on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, it will feature Von Dutch products and serve as a test lab for styles still in development.

As the company presses forward with sales expected to reach about $25 million next year, it’s still in the midst of a lawsuit filed by a former partner in June accusing Von Dutch principals Michael Cassell and Tonny Sorensen of unfair business practices, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. Von Dutch has said it will fight the charges.

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