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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