NEW YORK — In an interview this week, True Religion Jeans founder Jeffrey Lubell confirmed that his recent merger of his company into the shell of a publicly traded enterprise founded to hunt for valuable minerals was the conclusion of a...
NEW YORK — In an interview this week, True Religion Jeans founder Jeffrey Lubell confirmed that his recent merger of his company into the shell of a publicly traded enterprise founded to hunt for valuable minerals was the conclusion of a months-long search for a way to ensure that his company was able to stand on its own feet.
“With my other two brands, I made bad decisions,” he explained, in reference to his earlier loss of control over the Bella Dahl and Hippie Jeans brands through court fights with partners. “I said, ‘I’d rather do things myself than to sell out and go through that again.’ When you find a partner, you have to answer to someone else’s rules and regulations because people who put the money in think they deserve majority ownership.”
Still, Lubell acknowledged that a merger of his company, formerly called Guru Denim Inc., into the Vancouver-based Gusana Explorations Inc. wasn’t the first option to come to mind.
After launching the True Religion brand last fall, he first shopped it to a major publicly traded U.S. apparel vendor.
But the offer he received, he said, was unpalatable, with a lower selling price than he wanted for giving up control of the business.
After deciding against that route, he turned to a friend in search of a direct investment. That friend put him in touch with the investment bankers behind Gusana. As reported, the merger of True Religion into Gusana went through in June and Lubell landed a 52.6 percent stake in that company, along with a $300,000 investment into its common shares. Those funds, he said, will be used to fuel the growth of the fledgling brand.
Last week, Gusana officially changed its name to True Religion Apparel Inc. and moved its registered headquarters to El Segundo, Calif.
As president, majority owner and the company’s top-ranking official, Lubell said, “I get to drive the company the way I would like to do it, rather than having someone else tell me the way I want to do things.”
Lubell’s current growth plans include rolling out a line of men’s sportswear featuring wool-blend pants cut in the same silhouettes as its jeans.Lubell said the firm, which has not yet reported financial results in its various filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is on track to ship $4 million of goods its first year out.
“Next year, our conservative growth projections are for $6 million. I think we can double or maybe even triple that, based on what’s going on today, but I like to be more conservative,” he said. “Being a public company now, everything is out there, and we want to make the projections.”
During its first year in business, the company also has lined up distribution and licensing deals in Japan, Canada, Italy, Spain, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Lubell said he’s also starting to think about licensing the name.
The thinly traded stock closed at $1.41, up 4 cents in Thursday over-the-counter trading.
Lubell, a former fabric salesman, got into the jeans business, along with his wife, Kimberly, in 1998 with Bella Dahl. Reflecting on the two brands he lost during court fights, Lubell said he welcomes his changed circumstances.
“I had an opportunity to get some nice money into the company and have the ability to consistently raise capital if necessary to support the brand without having a partner to answer to,” 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