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Vernon Jeans Maker Looks to Fit in Kids Market

Premium denim maker 7 for All Mankind is going small, but it’s part of a plan to grow.

The Vernon apparel maker, owned by Greensboro, N.C., apparel conglomerate V.F. Corp., has launched a line of jeans for newborns and kids that started selling at major department stores such as Bloomingdale’s, boutiques and online this month. The pint-size pants come with a cheaper price tag – $59 to $89 – compared with $169 for a pair of jeans for mom.

Seven for All Mankind is planning to launch a complete children’s clothing line next year, including tops and bottoms. The company announced earlier this month that it signed a licensing deal with New York children’s apparel maker Tawil Associates Inc. to produce the clothes.

Barry Miguel, president at 7 for All Mankind, said in an e-mail that the company wants to move beyond jeans, shoes and accessories with the children’s line.

“Continued growth is fundamental to our business as the premium global denim lifestyle brand,” Miguel said.

The company isn’t the first local premium denim maker to enter the children’s clothing market. Joe’s Jeans Inc. of Commerce and True Religion Apparel Inc. of Vernon also make designer duds for kids.

Tawil, which makes apparel for such brands as Walt Disney Co. and Juicy Couture, worked with 7 for All Mankind designers for eight months on the children’s line. The clothes are modeled after the same fits, finishes and fabrics used for the company’s adult customers.

Meanwhile, 7 for All Mankind has also been adding to its number of stores. The company opened a second location in Canada this month with plans to open an additional 10 to 15 stores there in the next five years.

“Opening 7 for All Mankind stores enhances the brand’s presence,” Miguel said.

The company is planning to have more than 150 stores worldwide by the end of this year.

Growing Gadgets

Skechers USA Inc. is plugging in. The company is putting its name on earphones, digital cameras and other electronic products.

The Manhattan Beach shoemaker announced last week that it signed a licensing deal with Edison, N.J., manufacturer Sakar International Inc. to make consumer electronics and accessories based on its shoes for kids and teens. The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, marks the first time Skechers has put its name on electronics.

Sakar will produce electronics, including MP3 players, speakers and USB flash drives, that coordinate with such Skechers products as its rhinestone-encrusted Twinkle Toes shoes for young girls and “Zevo-3” animated TV show for young boys.

The company in June announced a multiyear licensing deal with LF USA, a subsidiary of Hong Kong consumer goods manufacturer Li & Fung Ltd. LF will produce Skechers fitness apparel and accessories for women and men.

Skechers highest-profile challenge is the handling of its Shape-up toning shoes. The company sold off older styles at reduced prices in the second quarter for a loss of $21 million. But the company has developed new toning and running shoes, including lightweight styles that recently hit store shelves, and those may help the line get back on track.

Style Card

What’s an ideal partner for a shopping mall? Maybe the Grove has the answer: a credit card company. The mall recently launched a promotion with Citibank.

Rick Caruso’s Grove shopping center and New York financial services firm Citibank set up a rewards program last week for Grove shoppers who use Citi cards. The Passport to Savings program, which will run through Sept. 30, features discounts and complimentary gifts at some of the mall’s retailers when shoppers use their Citi credit card or Citibank debit MasterCard. It’s the first time the outdoor shopping center on Third Street near the Fairfax District has formed a partnership with a financial services firm.

“It gets more people familiar with the Grove and our retailers,” said Jennifer Gordon, senior vice president of events and public relations at Grove owner Caruso Affiliated.

Some of the Grove’s retailers participating in the program include luxury handbag maker Coach, which gives shoppers 25 percent off purchases when they use the cards, and Whisper Restaurant and Lounge, which gives diners a free dessert with any entrée.

If the Grove’s partnership with Citibank is a success, the program may be extended and also offered at Caruso’s Americana at Brand in Glendale, Gordon said.

Staff reporter Alexa Hyland can be reached at ahyland@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235.

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