Vokal Critics

In the cutthroat world of urban fashion, there's lies, damn lies — and sales statistics.

"That just changed the whole game. There was nothing we could do. We tried. We did some button-ups, we did some cotton polos, but it didn't work. It just wasn't what we were known for."

Instead, the company focused on its women's-wear offshoot, Apple Bottoms, which was founded in 2002. Apple Bottoms apparel is now stocked by 3,500 stores around the nation, says Kelly.

Besides hocking jeans, dresses and tops, the company will soon offer lingerie, coats, purses with iPod ports in them and a body fragrance. "So altogether, for 2007, Apple Bottoms globally will be [worth] $100 million," adds Kelly.

The men are also working to revamp Vokal. They say it will re-emerge by the end of the year and reflect the evolution of their personal styles.

"Four or five years ago I was wearing triple-XL or four-XL, and Nelly wore it too," Martin says. "But now he's wearing L shirts or XL shirts, maybe. We just didn't want to keep wearing super-baggy jeans. We grew up; we started wearing suits more."

Kelly says the company is in negotiations with a new distributor, though he declines to name it. "Let's just say that what we're doing with Vokal is going to be very, very, very big," he says. "There's going to be huge PR behind it."

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