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Bonobos launches a collection of L.A.-made denim

November 18, 2011 | 11:19 am

Bonobos Denim
Bonobos, the men's pants brand known for its colorful khakis and e-tail-only business model, is expanding into denim, rolling out made-in-Los Angeles jeans that will retail for $125 each. 

"When we moved from San Francisco to New York City four years ago and launched our business with 400 pairs of pants, it was to make people who looked bad in khakis look good in khakis," Bonobos co-founder and Chief Executive Andy Dunn told the attendees at the Nov. 15 launch party at the Hollywood Roosevelt's Spare Room. "And now we're taking that fit into denim." (By comparison, Dunn said the company shipped close to 12,000 pairs in October alone.)

While bright colors, patterned pocket bags and quirky names are all things the core Bonobos customer has come to expect in chinos and corduroy trousers, Dunn said the denim is done a bit  differently.

"The denim market is overcrowded, over-priced and over-detailed," he said. "We thought that your denim shouldn't say so much -- a lot of jeans out there say too much."

The result is jeans in three washes in two fits (straight leg and boot cut) with no back pocket detailing and no exterior badging, cut and sewn in Los Angeles using denim from Cone Denim's famed White Oak plant -- a fact noted in the laundry list of specifications printed on the playful nautical-stripe pocket liner (including such facts as yards of denim and thread used to make each pair). Titled "Bonobos Denim Birth Announcement," it reads, in part: "North Carolina Denim, Conceived in NYC, Born in L.A. 12.25 ounces. Made in the U.S.A." 

Like the rest of the company's trouser assortment, the jeans will be sold online-only, and are expected to be available at Bonobos.com before the end of November with a price tag of $125.  (For comparison, Levi's USA-made 501s start around $178, and L.A.-made Citizens of Humanity starts at around $152.) 

And denim isn't the only place the brand is expanding either. Despite the gloomy economic environment Bonobos has been in full growth mode, growing from 23 employees at the beginning of 2011 to 50 currently. Among the new additions -- both eight months ago -- are Richard Mumby (late of Gilt MAN) as vice president of marketing and Brad Andrews, hired away from J. Crew to serve as vice president of merchandising. 

And Dunn said the expansion isn't over yet, taking the L.A. denim launch as an opportunity to announce that the New York City-based company would be opening a West Coast office in Palo Alto in early 2012, spearheaded by another new hire -- Chief Technology Officer Michael Hart, formerly the director of engineering at Netflix -- who joined the company in October and is tasked with building a Silicon Valley-based IT, engineering and product design team.

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-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Bonobos Denim collection consists of two fits and three washes and is made in Los Angeles using fabric from Cone Denim's White Oak plant. The $125 jeans will only be available through the label's website. Credit: Bonobos

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