The denim market’s premium players are learning to embrace diversity.
Seizing upon their strength in better jeans, many have attached tops and outerwear and some even full sportswear collections to complement their jeanswear offerings.
The reasons for doing so vary — from building on the brand equity already established from their efforts in jeans to providing sufficient breadth in their offerings to help populate the stores many of them have opened, are planning to open or at least sell into.
According to a number of executives assembled for last week’s Coterie market in New York, their efforts in retailing have borne fruit in two ways, helping them to build on sales and brand recognition as well as to publicize the range of what they do.
J Brand has yet to enter the retail fray but has positioned itself from its start in 2004 as a fashion brand rather than a denim brand, according to Jeff Rudes, chief executive officer of the firm, in which Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. last year took an 80 percent stake.
“Our attitude was that you just don’t go out and tell your denim team to design and produce some ready-to-wear,” Rudes said. “We’ve built a dedicated team of 20 people totally focused on our rtw who don’t touch our denim. To achieve the placement we wanted, next to collections like Helmut Lang, we knew it had to be able to stand on its own. The success we’ve had so far and the momentum we’ve established are very promising.”
Initially launched in 70 doors, the rtw was expanded to more than twice that number and will be in 300 doors for spring and grow to 400 for fall, reflecting J Brand’s “careful, cautious approach” to the building process, the ceo said. By contrast, the jeanswear, now adorned with complementary tops and bottoms, is carried in more than 2,500 doors worldwide.
“At a specialty store like Ron Herman, it’s relatively easy for rtw and jeans to hang side by side,” the ceo added, “but in department stores, there’s a separation.”
Most jeanswear marketers have somewhat less ambitious plans, looking to maximize their positions within an evolving definition of jeanswear that includes not just denim jackets and chambray shirts, but often leather outerwear and casual knits. While free to merchandise the broader assortment within their own stores, selling them into retail accounts can be challenging.
“Overall our denim buyers do have some latitude with items like denim jackets and chambray shirts, and there are signs that more of the department stores are making adjustments to allow their buyers to cross over,” said Barry Miguel, president of Seven For All Mankind, part of VF Corp.’s contemporary coalition. “It’s a little easier in men’s, where sportswear typically sits with denim, and harder in women’s, where denim tends to have its own real estate in contemporary.”
With 32 stores of its own in operation, the brand has a natural home for not only sportswear but products, such as footwear, which are licensed to others.
Within its jeans assortment, Seven registered strong reactions to items such as a stretch suede and jeans that were coated and then lasered, giving them a leathery look and feel.
“There’s certainly a return to blue in the women’s jeans market,” Miguel noted, “but the fashion cycle that brought on color and prints isn’t going away. The color palette may be richer and darker, but you’ve got to have something special and novel to help entice the customer.”
With a retail footprint that’s now up to 28 stores, Joe’s Jeans Inc. has expanded its assortment to include more tops and bottoms as well as accessories and footwear.
“We’ve booked more than ever before on our collection,” creative director Joe Dahan said of the recent round of trade shows. “A lot of department store accounts see what we’ve laid out in our own stores, or in the specialty stores we sell, and have picked up on it. But beyond those kinds of opportunities, we’re really starting to see ourselves as dressing customers from head to toe. I’d say we’re at the start of that process.”
New from Joe’s for fall is Tailored by Joe’s, which has effectively expanded the assortment to include tailored blazers and slacks and oversize denim jackets. Meanwhile, the company has enjoyed strength in both its Once jeans assortment, produced exclusively for Macy’s, and its Vintage Reserve jeans group.
DL1961 Premium Denim introduced its own sportswear collection for fall, augmenting its selection of premium jeans for women and men with blazers and knit, woven and novelty tops for both sexes. It live-streamed its fashion show last month to more than 92,000, generating more than 925,000 impressions, according to Sarah Ahmed, creative director. It went outside the vertical auspices of its parent company in Pakistan, ADM, for items outside its core competency in denim, such as leather and suede.
“In the department stores, we’re most often working with buyers outside the denim area as we sell the collection,” said Tami Gindi of the women’s sales team, “but there are some exceptions and a lot of the bigger stores are now looking into” assigning the purchasing of nondenim to their denim buyers. “We’re pushing for more brand recognition and visibility and working with the stores on signage and presentation.”
The company also has six associates working within the stores of major accounts on both coasts of the U.S.
Having closed its sole U.S. store in Manhattan, Mavi is planning to open two units in Brooklyn, N.Y., this spring and is beginning to offer a broader assortment of products.
“We have 285 stores in Europe and representation in 22 different countries to go with the production facilities operated by our parent company, Erak, in Turkey,” said Ardie Ulukaya, senior vice president of Mavi USA. “We’ve got leather outerwear and cotton-linen shirts in the line now and sold out of sleeveless tops for spring.”
Other products are about to enter the pipeline, and Ulukaya expects to boost sales and expand Mavi’s breadth despite hitting the market with fewer stockkeeping units than it had a year ago.
“Our sales were up 30 percent, and even more with our specialty-store accounts, despite the fact that we narrowed the line and made it easier to understand and buy,” he said.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye