Tough economic times appear to mean one thing for major denim brands — expansion. From opening their own stores across the globe to display all their offerings to introducing new product categories, firms are pressing aggressively to raise their profi les and capture consumers’ attention. San Francisco-based Stylophane.com, an e-commerce and marketing firm, has provided the most-searched-for denim brands online during the month of April. The firm tracks the number of times each brand was entered into search engines, such as Yahoo.com. Another great publicity tool for brands: celebrities. Many of the names below have dedicated celeb followings, thanks to the usage of famous faces in their ad campaigns.
Total searches for the month of April: 446,285
Molvena, Italy-based Diesel is marking its 30th anniversary with a string of retail projects planned for the year, with store openings inTokyo’s Ginza and Hong Kong in May and in Milan in September. In the U.S., Diesel will open a New York flagship on Fifth Avenue at theend of the year. The brand has also been working to expand its product offering. In January, the company signed a licensing agreementwith Zucchi Group for a home linens collection, which will be followed by furniture, lighting and objects for the home next year. InFebruary during New York Fashion Week, Diesel launched a label called Black Gold aimed at a higher end of the market.
Total searches: 210,103
“The domestic doldrums encourage California-based companies to turn an eye overseas, where the weak dollar also makes their pricesmore attractive to shoppers. For instance, Guess Inc. is bolstering operations in Europe and South Korea,” WWD reported earlierthis month. In fiscal 2008, the Los Angeles-based company’s international businesses accounted for more than two-thirds of operatingearnings, so the strategy seems to be working. For the year ended Feb. 2, total revenues increased 39.7 percent to $1.75 billion from $1.25billion last year.
3. TRUE RELIGION
Total searches: 187,896
Vernon, Calif.-based True Religion has been among the most aggressive denim brands lately in terms of expansion, opening 11 stores lastyear and signing leases for seven new units this year. As of this month, the company has opened seven new stores, bringing the total storecount to 25 stores. Earlier this month, True Religion Apparel Inc. reported a 34.7 percent jump in first-quarter income to $6.9 million, or29 cents a diluted share, from $5.2 million, or 22 cents, in the same year-ago period. Sales for the quarter rose 47.4 percent to $53.4 millionfrom $36.2 million. In addition to denim, the line includes corduroy pants, skirts, shirts, shorts, jackets and T-shirts.
4. ROCK & REPUBLIC
Total searches: 125,635
Founded by fashion mogul Michael Ball in 2002, Culver City, Calif-based Rock & Republic is known for its over-the-top fashion showsduring New York Fashion Week. In February, the brand’s fall showing was billed as a two-act performance according to the program notes,”but it was more like a three-ring circus,” reported WWD. The chaos didn’t prevent the likes of Tyson Beckford and Russell Simmons fromattending. Meanwhile, other R&R followers include Cameron Diaz, Paris Hilton and Sarah Jessica Parker. In 2004, the brand teamed upwith Victoria Beckham to create “VB Rocks,” a line of jeans and casualwear that has been a success in both the U.S. and Europe.
5. APPLE BOTTOMS
Total searches: 109,865
Multiplatinum superstar Nelly is the mastermind behind this denim-focused brand, which launched in 2002. The denim offerings aredesigned to fit women of all shapes and sizes and the brand has been worn by the likes of Oprah, Vivica Fox, Fergie and Ashanti, to name afew. In addition to denim for women, the New York-based brand has expanded into sportswear, handbags, sunglasses, footwear, swimwear,jewelry, intimates, outerwear, cold weather accessories and girls’ and infants’ clothing. Nelly is seen left with his daughter, Chanelle, andniece, Sydney, at the ad shoot for Apple Bottoms Girls — both girls are wearing the brand.
Total searches: 105,299
The San Francisco-based denim giant opened a Times Square flagship this month. The 6,500-square-foot space houses Levi’s range of jeanfits, along with New York-themed apparel, T-shirts and tops. The Times Square location is the fourth freestanding store in New York andthe 62nd store in the country. WWD reported in April that for the first quarter ended Feb. 24, the company’s revenues rose 4.4 percentto $1.08 billion from $1.04 billion the same period a year ago. Currently, the business is evenly split between domestic and international.President and chief executive officer John Anderson believes international markets will eventually represent 60 percent of the business.
7. SEVEN JEANS
Total searches: 74,793
While there are a couple of different brands that can be interpreted from the search term, “Seven Jeans,” Los Angeles-based Seven ForAll Mankind is by far the most prominent. Seven marked the opening of its third store last week, a 1,400-square-foot space at the MalibuCountry Mart in Malibu, Calif. The stores serve as a showcase for the label’s expanded product range, which, in addition to denim, includeshandbags and accessories, dresses, skirts, sweaters and tops. Next up: outerwear and the introduction of footwear next spring. The brandis looking to open 100 stores in the next five years and expects to launch 10 stores this year.
8. LUCKY JEANS
Total searches: 47,957
Vernon, Calif.-based Lucky Brand Jeans is 85 percent-owned by Liz Claiborne Inc. Denim is just one of the offerings Lucky has in itsportfolio: Sportswear, knits, wovens, outerwear, T-shirts and activewear are featured, too. Additional Lucky Brand licensed products includeswimwear and accessories for men and women. The brand’s global presence has expanded with freestanding stores opening in Hong Kong andMacao along with its existing six stores across the Middle East. Currently, there are 150 company-owned stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico,along with additional locations in Canada and China.
9. MISS SIXTY
Total searches: 39,037
Though Italian designers Wichy Hassan and Renato Rossi founded Miss Sixty in 1989, the brand didn’t launch its first women’s jeancollection until 1991 and didn’t enter the U.S. market until a year later. The brand’s attention is now focused on jeans, but the collection alsofeatures women’s shoes, dresses, sweaters, shirts and skirts — currently, there are over 200 Miss Sixty individual stores worldwide. Thebrand has garnered quite the celebrity following, too: This past February, Anne Hathaway, Ashley Olsen, Paula Patton, Chloë Sevigny andMilla Jovovich were a few of the faces that sat front-row at the Miss Sixty show in New York.
10. SILVER JEANS
Total searches: 31,633
This Winnipeg, Canada-based moderate denim brand — which was founded in 1991, sells to U.S. stores including The Buckle and Dillard’s– is taking its first step in the American market as a retailer. Silver has plans to open its own store in Denver in July, a 2,100-square-footspace inside Denver’s Park Meadows Mall. It is to be the first Silver-branded store for parent company Western Glove Works, which alsoowns the 1921 Jeans label. Silver plans to open 50 to 75 locations in the U.S. over the next five years.
SOURCE: STYLOPHANE.COM; EACH SEARCH TERM IS TAKEN DIRECTLY FROM THE SOURCE