Levi’s on Display
With New York Fashion Week creeping closer, Bryant Park isn’t the only Gotham locale getting a facelift for the nine-day designer showcase.
Selvedge, the Levi Strauss & Co.-owned store in Manhattan’s NoLIta neighborhood, next week plans to unveil a window display designed by the Dutch firm Droog Design.
The boutique, part of Levi’s efforts to build underground buzz for its brand, opened its doors in October with virtually no publicity. The 750-square-foot shop, which carries only the Levi’s Red and Levi’s Vintage clothing lines and has no Levi’s signs on its outside, is part of a global network of Levi’s “icon” stores which carry only premium Levi’s products. Selvedge, the only Icon shop in the U.S., features an eclectic decor, including 1940s sonar equipment and a 1950s 8mm film projector that plays vintage movies on one of the store’s walls.
Over the past year, the company has quietly unveiled a handful of other icon shops around the world, including Cinch in London, Nim in Paris, Buttenheim in Berlin, B-Fly in Milan and, early this year, Zinc in Barcelona.
Levi’s officials said the new window display would be in keeping with Selvedge’s non-traditional product presentation and decor.
A layer of transparent film — half red, half green — is to be affixed to the window of the store. A logo with an “A,” signifying anarchy, is printed on the 3-D film. Merchandise from the Levi’s Red and Levi’s Vintage Clothing spring collections will be hung from the ceiling directly behind the film. Behind the clothing will be a three-dimensional photo — viewed properly only through the red and green film — featuring two contrasting images: disciplined soldiers and unruly concert-goers.
The contrasting images speak to the theme of the Levi’s Red spring collection, “Chaos/Order,” said Megan Shenon, Levi’s Red and Levi’s Vintage Clothing senior merchandiser.
Shenon said the display will remain at Selvedge for about two weeks, before heading to San Francisco, where it will be installed at the Stockton Street location of jeans specialty store Rolo.
“The challenge was what can we do to showcase this product in a really innovative way that answers the Levi’s Red mission,” she said. “The whole mission of Levi’s Red is to pioneer new icons for our brand, to experiment, to push the envelope.”
Shenon added that the company’s objective is to portray a fashion-forward image to its customers.
“The goal really isn’t about increasing sales, although that’s an added bonus,” she said. “The goal is to look at fashion in a whole different way.”
The alliance between Droog and Levi’s Red began last year when a similar window display was shown at Colette in Paris and Jones in London. Like in New York, the unveiling of the window displays at the two stores coincided with fall fashion weeks in those cities.
Droog Design’s other projects include the recently opened Mandarina Duck shop in Paris and The New York Times’ millennium capsule.
A “Chaos/Order”-themed window display will also be installed at Collette and Jones later this year during fashion week there.
Novel Jumps on Parity
It didn’t quite attract the attention some of the other beneficiaries of the generous final hours of the Clinton administration did, but Mauritius — and Novel Denim Holdings Ltd., which manufactures jeans there — got a going-away present from the former President as well.
According to sources, in her final hours in office, former U.S. trade representative Charlene Barshefsky officially granted trade parity for the island nation’s apparel industry, under the same law which granted parity to the nations of the Caribbean Basin last year. That nation and Kenya were the first sub-Saharan nations to qualify because they already have a customs system in place due to their established apparel and textile industries.
Novel, which is based in Hong Kong but has plants in Mauritius, as well as South Africa and Madagascar, wasted no time in singing the advantages of duty-free trade.
“This is a very important development for the company,” said president and chief executive officer K.C. Chao, in a statement. “We expect this enormous cost savings to be a catalyst for both increased demand for our products as well as improved margins.”
The extension of trade parity, which came in the form of a letter to the Mauritian government, means that apparel made in Mauritius of U.S. or locally produced fabric can enter the U.S. without paying duties. According to Chao, duties on the company’s jeans had run at about 17 percent.
He added that in the quarter ended Sept. 30, 46 percent of the company’s sales were to the U.S.
Unionbay President: Growth Ahead
Unionbay’s junior division has a new president and a new focus on fashion.
“We think we can grow the business by mid-double digits, probably between 10 and 15 percent,” said Barry Bates, who assumed his new position at the start of the year, after half a decade as senior vice president of the juniors and girls divisions. “There’s weakness obviously with designer-brand labels in the junior area and there are dollars available on the table.”
Bates said the company, a division of Seattle Pacific Industries, will seek to expand its customer base by adding about 20 percent more fashion items to the junior line.
“We’re turning up the heat on the fashion end of the business,” he said. “We have the key-item customer business already — that’s the core of our $150 million business.” Bates said the division’s fashion items “will be everything from studs to rivets to whatever the new trend is.”
Last year, Bates said, the junior division’s business grew by high-single digits, due largely in part to its move “from a broader collection resource in the upper moderate branding area to much more focused on key items.”
Union Bay’s juniors division also signed several licensing deals last year, for product lines, including socks, sleepwear, shoes and innerwear.
Bates said the licensing agreements “will enhance our brand and our image.”
Bates said one of the most important business decisions the junior division made last year was to “refocus on denim,” by upping its fashion offerings.
“We have always been a very strong denim brand and I think because our non-denim had been selling so well the last two or three years, we had kind of lost our focus,” he said. “We had a broad offering of both key items and also a lot of fashion in the line, which was sensational at retail.”
Jeans From Space
Yet another junior sportswear company is getting ready to jump into the increasingly crowded jeans market.
Los Angeles-based Space Girlz plans to launch in the fall a junior denim collection, consisting of low-rise and flared jeans, denim skirts and jackets.
The company said the collection, which will be shown at the WWDMagic show in Las Vegas this month, will retail from $24 to $69.
Space Girlz produces fashion bottoms, such as twills and stretch garments. Owner Richard Skolnik said in a statement, “The collection we are introducing has a strong representation of novelty and basic styling. It’s a natural extension of the sportswear collection.”