One of Southern California's most successful denim kingpins is jumping back in the jean pool.
Peter Koral, who co-founded the 7 for All Mankind premium denim label in 2000 and built it into a business that VF Corp. purchased in 2007 for $775 million, has teamed up with his eldest son, 29-year-old David Koral, and fellow 7 for All Mankind alumnus Rick Crane to launch Koral Los Angeles. The line of women's premium denim started hitting retail shelves in late July.
During a recent visit to the label's downtown showroom, father and son sat down to explain how the denim trade became a family business.
Peter Koral gestured with a wide sweep of his hand toward the showroom's far wall, where a half-dozen pairs of jeans were arranged in descending order of blueness.
"I was retired for about five years," he said, "and I had my son David calling me every day, saying: 'Come on, Dad, let's get back to work before you lose all of your contacts.' I said: 'OK,' and called up my old buddy Rick Crane and this is the concept we came up with."
The "concept" is a range of women's traditional indigo and colored denim characterized by a slim silhouette, high-end fabric (much of it sourced from Japan and Italy) and low-key details that include monochromatic labeling and a lack of the back-pocket embroidery designs that are so often a part of a jeans maker's brand identity.
The Korals refer to their range of treatments and washes on the indigo denim as a "lived-in length" concept — each one approximates the wear and fading that would naturally occur over a specific length of time. The darkest is a dark blue (looking as if it has never been washed); the lightest, a pale blue (hand sanded and wrinkled) that looks like it's been through 36 months of wear.
The family name is there — though it's subtle. The single letter "K" is stamped into rivets, "Koral" is stamped into the waistband button.
Both men point to the minimalist approach as a way of addressing the current state of the premium denim industry (see related story above). "There doesn't seem to be any really true denim out there today," Peter Koral says. "Sure there are five-pocket [silhouettes], but it seems to have gotten away from the true essence of what denim really is."
At 29, the younger Koral had already embarked on his own career path as a local night life entrepreneur, becoming a partner in Voyeur (a West Hollywood nightclub that made headlines in 2010 when it came to light that the Republican National Committee had reimbursed nearly $2,000 spent on a party there) and opening a Mediterranean restaurant called Mezze.
"About two or three years ago I was running the nightclub and looking at my life in general," said David Koral. "And since I'd always had this passion inside of me to start my own denim line, I started harping on my dad."
The first collection consists of 45 pieces offered in nine women's silhouettes (including boot cut, cropped and skinny), ranging in price from $160 to $240, which puts the brand in the same category as 7 for All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity and J Brand. Local retailers include Elyse Walker, American Rag, Intermix and Ron Herman at Fred Segal on Melrose Avenue.
Peter Koral hopes to double — or even triple — the number of silhouettes for spring 2013, which would include the brand's first offerings for men. "We're just getting the machine going," he said.
His son chimes in, adding that the real goal is to grow Koral Los Angeles into a full-blown lifestyle brand. "We want to eventually add shirts and other pieces to the collection — and eventually our own retail stores," David Koral said.
But both father and son appear determined to grow the brand slowly.
"Last time we did it for the money, and now we want to build a brand that lasts a lifetime," Peter Koral said. "That's why we put our name on it."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times