Joe’s Jeans is lowering its entry price point for women’s denim by $7 for spring 2009 to drive business, and the company, along with competitor True Religion, is looking to expand internationally to help blunt the impact of the recession.
In presentations Tuesday at the Roth 21st Annual O.C. Growth Stock Conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point, Calif., executives from both Los Angeles-based premium denim firms discussed strategies for the year.
Although some shoppers are still shelling out $200 for a pair of jeans — both companies reported revenue growth for 2008, though annual earnings statements have yet to be released — executives acknowledged a softening in the women’s denim business.
Expansion and retail penetration internationally is a priority for Joe’s Jeans. The company recently opened a corporate office and a freestanding store in Paris. “Hopefully, the international and men’s businesses will see some growth and will mitigate any losses on the women’s side,” said Marc Crossman, president and chief executive officer.
“We think there’s that level of customer who is turning away from premium denim,” Crossman said. The company is moving more of its manufacturing abroad to justify the entry price point reduction to $138 from $145.
Both companies cited a spike in the men’s denim business and an increase in overseas revenue channels as key factors balancing tepid sales on the women’s side.
Crossman described the performance of the men’s business as “fantastic.” The division, which launched in 2006, grew 40 percent in 2008, while net sales were flat in the women’s category.
Despite the economy and the closing of 6 percent of its retail base in 2008 because of the recession, the company reported a 10 percent increase in total revenue for the fiscal year and a 16 percent increase in net sales in the fiscal third quarter, to $18.2 million from $15.7 million in the same period in 2007.
Joe’s Jeans, which produces sleek, embellishment-free denim, recently branched out into lifestyle categories and retail, opening stores in San Francisco and Chicago.
Peter Collins, chief financial officer of True Religion, voiced a question that preoccupied many attendees: “How in the world, in this economy, can people spend that kind of money on jeans?” Answering his own query, he said, “Well, premium denim is a category that’s bucking trends.”
The denim lifestyle brand, known for its thick stitching and flap-pocket design, reported $265 million in net sales for fiscal 2008, up from $173 million in 2007.
In 2009, the company is looking to grow its international business — at retail and wholesale — first in Japan, where it established a subsidiary last year, then beyond. “We’ll be looking to replicate what we do in Japan elsewhere,” Collins said, adding that the company will open one or two stores in that country this year, though leases have yet to be signed. “We see the international market [eventually] outgrowing the U.S. market.”
In the U.S. and abroad, True Religion hopes to open a total of 20-plus stores annually through 2010. “We really see ourselves positioned as a global aspirational brand,” he said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast