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NEW YORK— When Generra was relaunched 13 months ago, creative director Tony Melillo and Dan Shamdasani, chief executive officer of Public Clothing Co., its parent firm, knew that denim was in its future.

“When we initially created Generra we filled a mood,” said Melillo in an interview at the showroom here last week. “We created clothes that feel real. Creating a jean was a natural progression. We didn’t know when it was going to happen, but we knew it would happen.” The company is launching its denim line at the Fashion Coterie on Tuesday.

With the new denim line being introduced for spring retailing, Melillo wanted to capture an “effortlessly chic” aesthetic. Currently the line consists only of jeans, but eventually may extend to skirts and jackets. Because there were no strict deadlines or required launch date, Melillo had time to contemplate every detail of the line — from the way the G was scripted on the back pocket to the Swarovski crystal poking out of the right front pocket.

Public Clothing acquired Generra in 2002 from Generra Holding Co., a licensing operation created after Generra’s bankruptcy in 1994. Generra, originally based in Seattle, was well known in the Eighties for creating youth-inspired sportswear.

“This isn’t the launch of another denim line,” said Shamdasani. “This is the evolution of a brand. We’re not doing it because it’s trendy; we’re doing it because it’s part of the Generra lifestyle brand.”

In fact, there’s nothing trendy about these jeans. The line consists of three fabrics, three washes and three styles: boot cut, straight leg and a novelty style, which this season is a cropped design.

Generra’s nontrendy, universal appeal is why Melillo thinks his styles transcend the contemporary market. “Our main focus is not just fitting people age 19 to 26. It’s able to be worn by anyone because it’s a great fit and, with the jeans particularly, the washes aren’t supertrendy or supergrungy. It’s just beautiful.” The jeans will wholesale from $65 to $85.

Melillo said the focus was on subtle details. “All the whiskering, the abrasions, the knee marks and the creases are all done in a subtle way.” And Melillo insisted on only the finest. “The fabric is from Japan, the hardware is from Italy and the manufacturer is in California and they’re all the very best,” he said. “Then we topped it off with the Swarovski crystal.”

This story first appeared in the September 27, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The women’s line will hit specialty stores like Barneys New York, Scoop and Fred Segal/Ron Herman in January, with a men’s line to follow eventually. “We’re very sensitive as to where our product is distributed,” Shamdasani said. “Our tight control of distribution will carry forward with our jeans.”

Shamdasani believes the company is undergoing continuous growth. “Generra as a brand and as a business will become very large,” Shamdasani said. “We don’t have a time line to launch handbags or footwear, but we will do that.”

— Lauren DeCarlo