LOS ANGELES — Citizens of Humanity is giving the Millennial shopper a taste of the Nineties with the spring revival of A Gold E under the creative direction of former pro surfer Kassia Meador.
This story first appeared in the January 22, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Jerome Dahan, founder and chief executive officer of Huntington Park, Calif.-based Citizens, is reviving the denim brand he co-started with Adriano Goldschmied 23 years ago, as a youth-oriented, lower-priced line. To help him reach the tech-savvy, peripatetic customer, Dahan hired surfer-turned-photographer Meador as A Gold E’s creative services director. Having collaborated with Citizens last year on a marketing campaign as well as surfboards sold at its pop-up shop, Meador, 31, is overseeing the images and branding for A Gold E. In addition to posting photographs on its Instagram account and helping to build an online community, she’s acting as a brand ambassador and producing its first look book.
“I really hope to bring a lot of my experience from the streets to the brand,” said Meador, who has collaborated on designs with brands such as Roxy and Swatch and photographed ad campaigns and fashion spreads for Raen Optics, Foam, Cooler magazine and others. This the first time she is working with a denim company.
“I’m a California-born and -bred kind of girl,” she said. “Denim is so synonymous with L.A. I definitely feel part of the brand and its message. My go-to is a pair of jeans.”
Retailing from $98 to $138, A Gold E is introducing five signature women’s fits in the U.S. and U.K. at Aritzia, Anthropologie, Buckle, John Lewis, Shopbop.com and Zappos.com. While Dahan stayed with A Gold E’s first iteration for only two seasons and the line closed in the mid-Nineties, he thought A Gold E would fit with Citizens’ strategy to introduce a new business revolving around comfortable jeans, all made and washed in L.A.
“It’s a little bit cleaner [than Citizens]. It’s basic. It’s not as trendy,” he said, adding that Goldschmied, Citizens’ executive vice president of product development, is not working on A Gold E. “It was kind of like going back to the Nineties and remembering so many things I did. It was a vibe I felt was right at this time,” said Dahan.
The relaunch of A Gold E adds to the growing momentum for the Nineties as a trend in the fashion industry. It also underscores the crucial strategy of offering the right product for the Millennial customer, who’s been chased by Joe’s Jeans’ Else brand, Macy’s and many other fashion companies. According to a recent WWD study, the 80 million Millennials in the U.S. boast annual spending power of $200 billion.
In tune with the Nineties theme, Meador is channeling the young lovers from the movie “True Romance” and other famous couples for A Gold E’s marketing materials.
“Those iconic couples — whether it’s Johnny Depp and Kate Moss or Sid and Nancy or Nico and Lou Reed — they made a statement,” she said. “That is a theme we’ll keep throughout the brand: us versus them.”
Meador’s fresh take is welcomed by senior executives.
“The way you approach bringing it to [the Millennial] market is completely different,” said Citizens president Amy Williams. “She has a real sensibility around art direction. It’s interesting when you build a brand for a customer in their 20s versus someone like myself in their 30s and 40s.”
Dahan declined to estimate sales figures for A Gold E, which will introduce a men’s component in the fall. Citizens, founded in 2003, has annual sales of more than $100 million.
“[A Gold E] can grow and if we decide to grow the brand, the brand can be very significant,” he said.
Separately, Citizens appointed Katie Morrison, former global sales director for Frame Denim, to the new post of international accounts manager. She will be based in Citizens’ London office and work directly with Williams and Mario Borroi, chief operating officer of international for the company.