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Rufskin fashion show coming to Rich's

SAN DIEGO – Hot guys, hot models and hot clothes. A gay man’s trinity, perhaps.

San Diego’s home-grown design firm, Rufskin, will present its annual Spring Fashion Show starting about midnight Saturday, March 27, at Rich’s in Hillcrest.

The popular fashion show will be presented by San Diego Pix Magazine and Rich’s, the oldest and arguably the most popular gay dance club in America’s Finest City.

The emcee for the fashion show will be the multi-talented Jason Wimberly, global sales director for Rufskin Denim, and a style maven in his own right with 10 years of experience in the fashion industry for icons such as Gucci and Neiman Marcus.

“This will be the 27th show,” Wimberly said.

Some of Rufskin’s most hunky models - including Joseph Sayers, Ben Patterson and David Webster - will be showing off the spring line, Wimberly said.

As a tribute to its legions of loyal fans, Rufskin will offer half-price entry from 10 to 11 p.m. for patrons wearing Rufskin clothing. Other deals are in the works.

The Spring Fashion Show will also celebrate the 50th birthday of Rufskin designer Hubert Pouches, who is the long-time partner of Douglas Coats. Pouches and Coats are co-owners of Rufskin, which recently opened a flagship store at 3944 30th Street in the heart of North Park’s arts and dining district.

“The show will be an homage to Hubert,” Wimberly said.

Rufskin is enjoying booming business at a time when many people are cutting back to survive the worst recession in most people’s lifetime. “Wholesale was up 30 percent last year,” he said.

Rufskin fans are fiercely loyal. “It’s almost a cult thing,” Wimberly said. “We are a true designer label and have a high design esthetic. We are high on design and high on quality. And we are reasonably priced for our product.”

Wimberly noted that most denim jeans retail from $110 to $180, which makes Rufskin competitive against other designer labels.

“When a new line comes out, we usually sell out in three days,” he said.

Rufskin fans, of course, love the studly models and sexy clothing. Wimberly maintains the Ruftalk blog at Rufskin.com and tries to post something new daily. “We are getting 40,000 hits per week,” he said.

The company is also experiencing growing pains, Wimberly said.

Rufskin employs eight people in its North Park office. With such a small group, “there is a sense of ownership and involvement,” he said.

“We’re 100 percent made in the U.S. now,” Wimberly said. The company ended its use of Brazilian workers about eight months ago, he said.

“The company is more green, too,” Wimberly said, explaining that Rufskin is using recycling bins, reusable shopping bags, stopped printing catalogs to save trees and trash, and moved all imagery online.

The brand is known in most parts of the globe, largely due to the Internet. Rufskin is huge in Germany, the U.K. and France. Sales in the U.S. ranks fourth. “Germany is one-third larger than the U.S. in sales,” Wimberly said.

As a small company, Rufskin can custom-make leather and denim apparel with a turn-around time of about two weeks.

“Where else can you buy a made-to-order leather jacket for $580?” Wimberly said.

The ever-busy Wimberly travels a lot promoting the Rufskin brand. He recently hosted a White Party event at Base on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, returned to his home base, and will be off to New York City for two events. First up will be Black Party 2010 at G Lounge on March 18-19. He will follow that up with a show at Club 57 @ Prividence on March 20-21. Then it’s back to San Diego for the fashion show at Rich’s.

The fashion show matches up two partnerships that share good synergy. San Diego Pix Magazine – part of Hale Media, which also owns SDGLN.com - and Rufskin have teamed up on a number of projects over the years.

“Pix Magazine and Rufskin have shared almost four years together with a wonderful marriage of photographic images, benefit events and, last but not least, friendship,” said Coats, Rufskin’s president.

“Working with Johnathan Hale and Hale Media has been a collaboration of professional and dynamic proportions. Pix Magazine and Rufskin have been together since its inception, and will be for many years to come.”