A denim brand lacking in heritage can compensate for it with the element of surprise.
“We’re not Levi’s. We don’t have a 150-year heritage,” Shubhankar Ray, global brand director of Dutch denim brand G-Star Raw, said.
Instead, G-Star’s attitude is that “you have to be surprising to get noticed.” Ray is responsible for creating new concepts for the denim brand to communicate worldwide and for finding ways to be distinctive in a market that’s populated by brands that arrived on the scene long before G-Star. In today’s fragmented market, media is no longer “fixed,” and has become multiplatform, with much of the action happening online.
G-Star, which distributes in 70 countries and had retail sales of $2.2 billion last year, gets its inspiration from modernist industrial design rather than fashion. Furniture, such as Le Corbusier chairs, architecture and industrial objects, are important influences. Ray said G-Star likes to combine old products in new ways.
“The more unexpected this combination, the more surprising the result,” he said. During his career, Ray has worked with brands such as Camper, Levi’s, Caterpillar and Sony. Working at Levi’s taught him how to add new elements to vintage products and modernize and reinvent an item that hadn’t changed very much since 1850.
At G-Star, he said, “Raw” has become a key ingredient of the company’s DNA. “Raw means uncut, unprocessed, pure,” he said, adding “original” and “authentic” to the definition.
In developing products, G-Star likes to combine street attitudes with luxury. For example, G-Star will fuse things like denim with silk, denim with cashmere and denim with leather. “We’re the modern, metropolitan denim brand,” he said.
A point of differentiation is its 3-D denim design, he said. In 1996, it launched a jean called Elwood, which fused motocross trousers with workwear jeans. Those pants evolved into the Arc pant, an architectural cut with a low crotch, straight hip and asymmetric tapered leg, which is its number-one style.
Another important trend is mass customization, “a contradiction in terms,” said Ray. “Even the mass market wants specialized products. They want it designed for him, but only for him.”
G-Star gained visibility by showing up in unconventional places. For example, the company exhibited at Tokyo Design Week, a bastion of furniture and household items, where it opened a pop-up gallery to display its designs and craftsmanship. It then brought the pop-up gallery to the Shanghai Expo, where it invited Liv Tyler to meet customers. It also exhibited at Bread & Butter in a big way, as well as New York Fashion Week.
G-Star brought in photographer Anton Corbijn to impart what Ray called a “gritty edge” to its celebrity-centered ad campaigns. “The way we work with celebrities is not for the sake of the celebrity but more for global visibility,” said Ray. The company’s models have ranged from Dennis Hopper at age 72 to Magnus Carlsen, who at age 19 was the world’s number-one-ranked chess player. Its spring campaign features Clémence Poésy and Vincent Gallo.
In addition to its wholesale distribution, G-Star has 300 stores, most of which are franchised. Only three units, including one on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and two in its home market, are directly owned. In February, it opened its largest flagship in the world, a 7,300-square-foot unit in Hong Kong.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews