The Twilight from Luxury Saforte.

Noelle Nguyen believes women are often forced to choose between a brand image or quality, and that the two aren't always one in the same when it comes to women's fashion.

Noelle Nguyen believes women are often forced to choose between a brand image or quality, and that the two aren’t always one in the same when it comes to women’s fashion.

Nguyen is looking to resolve the debate between form and substance with her new premium denim line, Luxury Saforté.

“The name Saforté was taken from the words substance and form,” Nguyen said. She launched Saforté, a young ladies contemporary line, in major department stores in March with backing from silent partners who have been in the apparel manufacturing industry for 30 years. “Luxury Saforté is for us to target a different customer with a more sophisticated trend direction.”

To illustrate the choices consumers are faced with, Nguyen pointed to two of the world’s largest and most successful brands. “Victoria’s Secret sells an external image, and it works and it’s great,” she said. “At the other end of the spectrum you see advertisers going after substance, like Nike. They say ‘you can do it.’ We’re out there to say you don’t have to choose between one or the other. Our image is the Guess girl with a soul, the Victoria Secret’s girl with brains.”

Luxury Saforté uses a 14-ounce denim produced in Hong Kong and includes as much as 2 percent spandex depending on the style. The line consists of four styles: Curvaceous, Slenderizing, Lovely and Statuesque. Nguyen characterizes the Lovely, a boot-cut with a 7-and-a-half inch rise in the front and a 12-and-a-half inch rise in the back, as the brand’s standard style.

As its name implies, the Curvaceous, also a boot-cut style, is designed to lift and emphasize the rear. The Slenderizing, said Nguyen, “is made for the girl with the hips and the thighs who wants to look thinner. We really want to flatten you out.” To achieve this look, Nguyen said the knee has been opened up to give a straighter look and the leg opening has been narrowed to 18 inches, or somewhere between a boot and a straight cut.

The line will begin selling in Dillard’s contemporary stores and in select Los Angeles boutiques on Jan. 30, but the official unveiling will occur at the Project Las Vegas show in February. Nguyen is targeting boutiques and better department store channels. Retail prices range from $98 for Bermuda shorts or cropped pants to $170 for more embellished full-length styles.

This story first appeared in the January 11, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Along with a range of embroidery techniques applied to back pockets, the line will also include “affirmation labels” sewn into the inside waistband. Examples include: “I don’t need a catwalk to be in vogue” and “I keep my mind and my body right.” It’s an important aspect of the line’s message and one Nguyen believes will reflect the attitude of her target consumer.

“If you see something like that every day, it’s going to give you a different outlook,” she said.

An ad campaign featuring the company’s employees is slated to start running in March in titles such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Lucky.

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