Monday, January 29, 2007

Joe's Back

The boys over at Joe's Jeans just got accepted back into the Nasdaq fold. They were just advised they are now in compliance with Marketplace rules by having maintained a closing price of $1 or more for 10 days in a row.

Wall Street's a tough place. If they lose their shirts let's hope at least their jeans will hold up.

Press Release via Yahoo Finance

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NYT Scoops Up Levi's Muck

The New York Times today has an article that sheds some more light on Levi's recent litigation to protect its trademarks.

Notable quotes:

The company’s [Levi's] team of denim detectives — there are 40 across the world, scouring boutiques and department stores — has spotted what they considered offending stitches on jeans from the biggest names in the clothing business: Guess, Zegna, Esprit, Lucky Brand and Zumiez, to name a few.


But those competitors say the lawsuits are the last resort of a poor loser, a company that has lost billions in sales, laid off thousands of workers and flirted with bankruptcy as the denim industry exploded.

NYT Article

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Friday, January 26, 2007

BIG Assurance

Our friends at Blue in Green (BIG), premier denim retailer in NYC, sends denimheads around the globe the following message today.


This is an announcement concerning all of our denim products.

All of our denim products imported from Japan or any other country will no longer contain tabs sewn into pocket seams made of any type of material and of any color including leather. They will also be void of any back pocket stitching or leather patches which infringe on trademarks or copywrites registered with the United States government. These three infringements include:

-Any piece of fabric or material sewn between two structural seams of a garment

-Back pocket stitching (arcuate) which could be mistaken for a Levi's arcuate or similar enough to cause confusion

-Leather patch with an image of two horses (and apparently anything else) pulling apart a pair of jeans.

All of the companies we currently sell in our store fully understand this matter and will comply by removing tabs, pocket stitching, and leather patches which infringe on or are too close in similarity to US registered trademarks and copywrites. We are also complying by no longer selling items with these infringements in place.

**All items are now being sold void of these three trademarks and copywrites held by Levi's Strauss and Co.

**We've been in contact with each of the brands we deal with on removing back pocket tabs for future products, either replacing back pocket arcuates with a different design or eliminating the arcuates completely, and in the case of our beloved pigboy champions Studio D'Artisan there will be a re-working of the leather patch due to the current infringement of two pigs pulling apart a pair of jeans.Fortunately what will not change about these products is the most important thing about them and the main reason we wear them and that's the DENIM!

When some denim companies speak of brand identity they rely on exterior flaggings or markings or shapes. In the case of these companies which we support they're identity is their denim. They pour blood, sweat, and tear into producing some of the most unique and revered denim on the planet. When we speak of these brands its usually about the texture, weight, and color of the denim. We're able to identify them just by sight and feel. So while these brands will be void of familiar markings they will still retain the most important aspect of their product and that's the denim.We'll be providing further information and developments as they occur. Thank you for your support in this time of change and transition.

Gordon Heffner
Yuji Fukushima
Blue In Green

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Blue: Where Did All the Denim Go?

I can't think of a better way to kick off the new year than to see what new indigo dyed cotton goods are coming our way. Unfortunately at this year's Blue, the NYC buy/sell show that revolves around premium denim, there wasn't a whole lot of denim to get my heart racing. Those who exhibited at Blue last year but were MIA this time include Iron Army, Blue Star, Denim Design Lab, and Sling & Stones. Reasons for the no-show include budget-VS-orders, politics, or not making the cut for this year's show.

Apparently Blue, which may have started out focusing on denim, has had to add to its product mix to appeal to the denim buyer who may also be shopping for rock and roll inspired accessories. This is a reflection of designer jeans sales leveling off. Retailers didn't seem as eager to pick up several new lines right off the bat just for denim.

So now that Blue is being positioned as a sportswear marketplace what does that mean for upcoming shows? This question grows important as Blue plans to enter the international arena by penetrating cities like Tokyo. Mike Sampson, who runs the Blue show for ENK, says we can expect product categories like eyewear, jewelry, and small leather goods in the future.

But make no mistake about this; denim lifestyle is still at the core of the show.

Most notable at this recent show include a Japanese denim company called Dania Japan & Co. Using piece goods woven and dyed in the famous Okayama city Dania offers raw and washed jeans and jackets inspired by vintage Levi's in various cuts for men and women. My favorite pair from their line is unfortunately a jean I can never wear out (though I'd gladly sleep in it). It measures 66" in length and is said to fit a 74" waist. The novelty item is available for $1850 raw or $2200+ vintage washed. Please examine exhibit A for time-stamped evidence.

It's selvedge too.

But for those of us who don't happen to be giant lumberjacks I recommend a straight fit non-washed selvage denim that was yarn dyed by hand (wholesale $305; double for retail).

Surprisingly the washed/destructed model is the same price but that's so early 00's (WHAT you haven't gotten into raw selvedge denim yet??).

If you don't care for the hand-dyed treatment but still want some amazing 14 oz. denim their regular "slub yarn" line wholesales for $105 raw to $190 washed. As the name indicates you get a garment that looks quite flat when raw but fades to reveal some gorgeous slubby vertical lines.

(sorry to disappoint but none of above pictured hands are mine)

Fits include straight, bootcut, and tight straight. For your softer side washed left-hand twill jeans are also offered for a bit more. Here's some official denim pr0n.

Vintage-inspired "Slub Yarn Denim Half Coat"

Vintage-truckers-inspired "Slub Yarn Left-hand Twill Selvage Denim Jacket"

Aforementioned selvage denim yarn-dyed by hand

"Slub Yarn Selvage"

The Dania group notes that their stateside debut has been met with warm reception and I wish them much success. The products they offer speak volumes about Japanese denim quality and I hope that message doesn't get lost in the sea of designer blue jeans all around. Although Japanese brands in the US currently cater to a very niche market Blue needs to be applauded for warmly inviting Dania into our marketplace (exhibitors screening is quite vigorous). This is an important first step towards improving consumer expectations of quality and design integrity in the US.
Blue ran from January 21-23, concurrently with The Collective show in New York City.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

More on Levi's Litigation

A few days ago we heard about Levi's going after Japanese denim brands who have "repro" models that infringe on LS&C trademarks. We now hit up Neil Christoper, international brand manager of Kato Denim (who's in the clear after an earlier "de-Levi"), for his thoughts. In a recent email (with presentation edits):

The Japanese denim business is still in shock after the Evis/Evisu tax thing a few years ago and the government in Japan is getting hard on the denim business over the taxes on exported denim goods and the disclosure of overseas profits from them and if this is going to happen it's going to rock the smaller businesses to the core. With a new PM there who's very USA friendly and the small amount of tax revenue that the smaller companies bring in we'll have little to no support. There will be a few smaller companies closing their doors over this due mainly to the timing of the suit and with a lot more restrictions placed on the business. My guess would be one big company will be made an example of. Levis have always been VERY aggressive on there trademarks and copyrights. Even if the [Japanese] company stopped the use [of infringing trademarks] before the legal proceeding started importers and resellers in this group will be affected globally. The trademarks are global. The lawsuit will not effect that many ranges directly but the small niche brands, distributors and stores are a close group and all will know someone who is touched by it. There will still be product coming out and new lines will arise to replace what has been lost but this is a defensive play by Levis who again use there muscle to squeeze out the little guys to protect it's shareholders. Some will say what damage these small producers can do to the giant that is Levi.. 'A swarm of bees can kill a cow'...the US is a soft market right now but Europe is very hard, mainly from 'faux' denims mostly from established labels looking for an increased profit from cheaper denims. Levis (globally) has felt this the most due to the shrinking market and their, quite frankly, poorly conceived 'premium' attempts and collaborations that have never really worked. When you're the market leader even a little lostis a bad thing. Over the last ten year Levis have suffered greatly from smaller companies taking there business.

Thanks Neil.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Levi's Evils

Word on the street is Levi Strauss & Co successfully pushed through a court order barring any brand from making and selling jeans that infringe on what's considered to be LS&C intellectual property. Things like the little tab on the back pocket, similar paper marketing tags, images of two moving objects pulling apart a pair of jeans on the back patch, and stitches in the likeness of Levi's arcuate are all off limits. While this will help the company fight faked goods it's obvious that the agenda is against direct competitors of their LVC (Levi's Vintage Clothing) line.

Details are still trickling. Involved in the litigation are revered brands such as Samurai, Studio D'Artisan, Iron Heart, Sugarcane and Oni. These are Japanese names with people behind them that have passion for denim.

The products they create are respected in Japan and abroad for quality, attention to detail, and heritage. Unfortunately the love these people have for the history of denim is viewed by Levi's to be their sin. Their homage to the emblems of the iconic Levi's jeans is being viewed as an infringement of LS&C's trademarks. While there's no doubt they will continue to create amazing products much is left to be desired by consumers looking for Japanese "repros" that painstakingly reflect nuanced details of yesteryear's vintage Levi's jeans, many of which LS&C either doesn't make or gets wrong (despite a fair attempt by their LVC label).

Retailers everywhere (yes, including Japan) are required to pull products that fall into the ruling from the shelves.

Garments trying to get past US/Japanese customs won't make it (not intact anyway). The only two retailers in the USA who have made such beautiful garments available to us are affected: Self Edge in San Francisco and Blue in Green in New York City.

Confirmations and more scoop are in the works. Thanks to Kiya at Self Edge for the tip.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Flying Machine Tanking

From Fibre2Fashion:

India's first home bred jeans brand Flying Machine is owned by Arvind Mills' garments division.

The sale of this brand is experiencing stagnation with limited sales, at mere Rs5 to Rs6 crore till 2005.

In 2006, the concentration was on the circulation channels which have helped it to reach on the shelves of 200 multi-brand outlets. This has increased the sales up to Rs25 crore.

In 2007, the Arvind Mills is now trying to reposition the brand, with a target of increasing the sale.

The jeans market in India is worth about Rs5,000 crore, where organised brands enjoy a 15 percent share.

Side note: Rs is Indian Rupees and 1 crore unit is 10,000,000. Use for your conversions.

Fibre2Fashion Article

Monday, January 08, 2007

Brotherly Love or Sibling Rivalry?

Guess who came out on top? Hot off the press:

Guess?, Inc. (NYSE: GES) today announced new roles for Maurice and Paul Marciano as the Company continues its global expansion. Effective immediately, Maurice Marciano will transition from his position as Co-Chairman of the Board and Co-Chief Executive Officer to the position of Chairman of the Board, and Paul Marciano will transition from his current position as Co-Chairman of the Board and Co-Chief Executive Officer to the role of Vice Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer.

Commenting on the new roles and responsibilities, Maurice Marciano said, "Paul and I have worked together as partners for more than 30 years, and we have leveraged one another's strengths as we built Guess? from a small denim company to the global lifestyle brand the Company represents today, with annual revenues in excess of $1.1 billion. In my new role, I plan to continue to be actively involved in driving the Company's strategic vision, coordinating the work of our Board to add maximum value to our Company and supporting Paul and our entire management team as we move forward to execute on our strategic goals. Additionally, I believe that the separation of the offices of the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer is a positive move in today's corporate governance environment. Our Board has embraced the change enthusiastically."

Paul Marciano added, "As we continue to develop our global strategy and execute on our long-term commitment to protect the integrity and image of our brands, I am excited to take this new role and commit full force to our growth opportunities, both in North America and abroad. I see tremendous potential for our Company for revenue growth and margin expansion as we further develop the Americas, Europe and Asia, and we currently have initiatives in place that address all of these markets. I believe we have a strong team today and I am committed to strengthening further our executive team globally. Our vision is clear; execution and consistent performance will be key to our success as we approach the future. I look forward to
this new chapter working with Maurice."

Mssrs. Marciano have served in the capacity of Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs since 1999. At the time of the Company's initial public offering in 1996, Maurice Marciano served as Chairman and CEO while Paul Marciano served as President. Both have held executive positions with Guess? since 1981.

Guess? Website
Self Edge Exposed

Self Edge, a store (mecca, actually) in San Francisco that imports Japanese jeans (Iron Heart, Sugar Cane, Flat Head) has received healthy coverage from the San Francisco Chronicle. We can expect to see a spike in interest in Japanese selvedge denim. Self Edge owner and fellow denim enthusiast, Kiya Babzani, is to be blamed for opening the flood gates. You can take it up with him at 714 Valencia Street. While you're there pick up one of the limited edition collabo Iron Heart jeans for me.

San Francisco Chronicle Article

Self Edge Website