LOS ANGELES — Designer Henry Duarte credited XM Satellite Radio as the musical inspiration behind his new collection called Duarte Jeans, a licensing partnership with Blue Concepts LLC.
“I got it last year and I’m listening to all new music and discovering a whole batch of new bands from the Datsuns to TV on the Radio,” he said.
While Duarte acknowledged he’s still a big fan of Led Zeppelin, he said he’s disregarding retro influences in favor of sounds for a more forward aesthetic.
But the line, done in black and white, still shows the influence of rock ’n’ roll morphed with a futuristic goth vibe. While his Henry Duarte collection — a favorite among music heavies such as Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler — features more classic styles, such as structured suit jackets or patchwork jeans, Duarte Jeans offers deconstructed looks.
The line’s denim jeans, cut with a narrow knee, are subjected to a hot-wax press, giving them a shiny veneer resembling tight leather from a distance. Jackets are an amalgamation of fabrics and materials, such as denim, leather and knits, which Duarte said are assembled, disassembled and then reassembled. The result is a style that shows lots of fringe, exposed seams and lining, providing the effect of an inside-out?product.
The line’s top sellers include a sleeveless jacket with rabbit fur and gathered leather, as well as a jacket made of fabrics typically used as suit linings, trimmed in leather with criss-crossing back straps. Wholesale prices range from $70 for jeans and
$92 for skirts to $565 for jackets.
The line, shipping for fall, has amassed orders from 300 stores worldwide, such as Barneys New York, Theodore in Los Angeles, H. Lorenzo in West Hollywood and Ron Herman/Fred Segal on Melrose Avenue. Duarte said he expects the line to hit $4 million in first-year sales.
He said he appreciates the freedom offered by his licensing agreement with Blue Concepts, which is a division of the Innovo Group.
“I get to do what I love without getting bogged down in production,” Duarte said. “I’ve already moved on to designing the spring line.”
He added that the spring collection will include knit tops. He’s also considering handbags, shoes and small accessories as brand extensions. A men’s line is set to debut at Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy, this summer.
Blue Concepts is seeking to build brands. It’s the maker of Yanuk jeans and has also struck a licensing deal with Rick Owens called Owens Slabs.
“It’s much more fun to build brands than dealing with retailers,” said Paul Guez, chief executive of Blue Concepts. “When you have strong designers, such as Henry, it’s easy to create a point of view for each brand.”
— Nola Sarkisian-Miller