Wrangler, Turning 60, Races From Nascar To Barneys

For its 60th birthday, Wrangler is celebrating both high--with special editions of chi-chi jeans--and low--auctioning off a farewell lap with a Nascar legend.

Owned by VF Corp., Wrangler recently re-signed its partnership with Dale Earnhardt Jr., and is launching an eBay auction for what may well be "the last opportunity to ride with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the famous Dale Earnhardt Inc. #8 Budweiser Chevrolet."

All proceeds from the auction, which wraps up Sept. 30, go to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, a Nascar-themed camp for children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. Dale Jr. will take the winning bidder on a 160-mph ride Oct. 17 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., before he moves on to the 2008 season with Hendricks Motorsports.

The first apparel company with significant Nascar involvement, Wrangler was the primary sponsor of Dale Earnhardt and the legendary blue-and-yellow "Wrangler Jean Machine" back in the 1980s.

In addition to Dale Jr., Wrangler continues to use Brett Favre, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, as a spokesperson.



And for consumers whose taste runs a tad more highbrow than Nascar or the NFL, Wrangler says that this week it will announce two limited-edition anniversary jean styles. Sold under the Wrangler47 brand name, a premium line introduced several years ago, the jeans will be sold exclusively at Barneys New York.

One model requires that the denim be dipped in an indigo bath six times to achieve the true-blue look the jeans had back in 1947, when they were still known as Blue Bell Coveralls.

The second style is fashioned after a classic 1950s Wrangler jean designer Monique Buzy-Pucheu found in a Brooklyn vintage shop. "Approximately six hours of meticulous labor go into each jean to achieve the perfect look. First, it is sprayed with resin, then baked in an oven, hand-sanded for specific wear patterns, stone washed, bleached, dried, hand-dirtied with resin and tint, baked again to cure the color, rinsed, softened, and finally, dried," the company says.

Only 600 pairs of each style will be available, retailing from $144 to $176.

VF Corp., which recently spun off all its intimate brands to Fruit of the Loom, has been beefing up its denim portfolio. In addition to owning Lee, the company recently acquired Seven for All Mankind, a premium jean marketer.

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