By  on May 24, 2007

Twice each year, New York-based Brand Keys releases its "Customer Loyalty Engagement Index" study, an analysis of which brands are meeting or exceeding respondents' expectations. In regard to denim, the survey focused on more than 3,000 men and women in the U.S., ages 18 to 60, who were asked to cite the last brand of jeans they purchased. From this data, index numbers were devised, with 100 being the benchmark. For example, Levi's index score is 128. This means the loyalty bond to the brand is 28 percent higher than the norm. "Brand management is entirely based on how a consumer views a brand," said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys. Because of purchase incidence, "all of these brands are engaging their customers; therefore, the loyalty bond to these brands is higher." —
LEVI'S
Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (denim): 128
This long-standing brand, founded originally in 1853, is still running strong with the best of them. Though the company reported a 61 percent jump in earnings to $86.6 million for its first quarter this year, there are some operations overseas that continue to underperform. Nonetheless, brand loyalty remains strong — favorite denim looks available include the 515 cuffed shorts and cuffed capris, along with the eco Twisted Crop jeans. Levi Strauss & Co. is headquartered in San Francisco and is privately held by the Haas family, descendants of Levi Strauss.
JOE'S JEANS
Index: 127
Worn by celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson, Lindsay Lohan and Jennifer Aniston, Joe's Jeans certainly has garnered a following. Its collection features playful names to describe each style: The Cigarette (straight and narrow fit), The Chelsea (ultraslim fit) and The Honey (booty fit), among others, are all available. The brand, which launched in spring 2001, is a subsidiary of the Innovo Group. Joe's will produce women's handbags, small leather goods and women's and men's belts, in collaboration with the Betesh Group.
TRUE RELIGION
Index: 126
Though earnings for the Vernon, Calif.-based premium denim brand fell 35.4 percent during the first quarter of this year, sales inched up by 1.5 percent to $36.1 million for the period. The company cites ongoing troubles within the Japanese market that continue to affect its international business. In April, the company unveiled its expansion plans: Locations will soon break ground at NorthPark Center in Dallas and at the Americana at Brand in Glendale, Calif. WWD reported that NorthPark store will open this fall, and the Americana at Brand will be launched with the shopping center in spring 2008.
WRANGLER
Index: 125
This brand, established in 1904 as The Hudson Overall Company, was once often thought of as the jeans only a cowboy could wear: In 1947, the company (whose name became Blue Bell Overall Company) created its Wrangler Western Wear, which was designed and marketed specifically as jeans for cowboys. Owned by apparel giant VF Corp. (the company also owns the Lee and Riders denim brands), some of Wrangler's collections include Western Wear, Aura From the Women, Rugged Wear and Timber Creek.
TOMMY HILFIGER
Index: 121
The Hilfiger Denim line is described on its Web site as, "A more fashion-forward sportswear collection, with a focus on premium denim-related separates for men and women." Available for women are the vintage tint jeans — stretch jeans made of medium-blue denim with slightly flared knees — and the aged denim jeans, which are prewashed for softness and feature classic five-pocket styling. The spring-summer 2007 Hilfiger Denim campaign was shot in Monument Valley in Arizona and "captures the young American vision of freedom and independence," according to the brand.
DIESEL
Index: 121
Plenty of famous faces love their Diesels, like Britney Spears, Halle Berry and Heather Graham. The brand has opened its first West Coast flagship. The 3,500-square-foot space is located in West Hollywood and opened for business Wednesday. Several stores have been redesigned during the past year, including locations in Pasadena and New York's Union Square. In addition, Las Vegas' shop is expanding and will reopen this June. Diesel is also planning on opening freestanding accessories stores, starting with New York and Miami, set to open in the second half of 2007.
GUESS
Index: 119
Los Angeles-based Guess is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year — having gotten its start in 1981, when brothers Paul and Maurice Marciano wanted to see quality jeans in the market. "Denim was dated and lacked a fashion edge," reads a statement on its Web site. Since then, the brand has become well-known for its iconic Guess Girls ad campaigns, which have featured Claudia Schiffer, Anna Nicole Smith, Naomi Campbell and Paris Hilton. Guess has expanded to several platforms, encompassing children's wear, handbags and accessories and men's and women's fragrances.
ROCK & REPUBLIC
Index: 119
Holding two wild fashion shows the last two seasons in New York has surely helped to put this premium denim brand on the map. Last fall, Rock & Republic chose to show its collection at Cipriani — just getting to the front door was a feat. From its well-known models on the runway (Karolina Kurkova and May Anderson) to its celebrity fan base (Sheryl Crow and Cameron Diaz), the brand has an impressive following. In April, the company opened a SoHo showroom to reinforce its edgy, Hollywood-esque image. Other products in its portfolio include eyewear, shoes and handbags.
SEVEN FOR ALL MANKIND
Index: 118
"Seven For All Mankind is in a retail state of mind," WWD said in April. The premium denim brand is to open its first freestanding store, a 3,000-square-foot space, in Los Angeles in November. "The design will be very sleek, modern and sophisticated," Aaron Battista, Seven's vice president of retail, told WWD. "We are looking to capture that luxury customer experience and we are presenting a denim brand that has developed into a true sportswear lifestyle." It looks to be a busy season, as the brand intends to launch a full children's sportswear collection for girls and boys this fall.
GAP
Index: 117
"Though the company may not be performing well, it is still viewed as a strong denim brand," said Robert Passikoff of Brand Keys. "They always have been." Gap Inc., a San Francisco-based specialty retailer, whose Gap division sales were $5.1 billion in 2006 (a 5.5 percent drop from 2006), is in the midst of a turnaround effort: It is working to extend its target market beyond 18- to 35-year-olds and draw in older customers. This spring, the company tapped three hot designer brands — Rodarte, Thakoon and Doo.Ri — to create limited edition exclusive looks for the retailer.
LUCKY
Index: 115
Customers continue to enjoy their Lucky Brand jeans, a brand that is owned by New York-based Liz Claiborne. Spring looks available include the adrianne denim jacket, the sundown straight cuffed cropped jean and the lola white ankle crop jean. The Vernon, Calif.-based brand has more than 150 stores worldwide — collections also are carried at better department and specialty stores and at luckybrandjeans.com. WWD reported this month that in the next few years, Claiborne plans to roll out approximately 100 Lucky Brand stores. Lucky Brand sales climbed 37 percent last year.

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