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Hudson Jeans is fashioning its next chapter.
The Los Angeles-based denim brand, which got a $30 million investment from Fireman Capital Partners and Webster Capital this year, is expanding its mix and will kick off a fall ad campaign featuring rock progeny Georgia May Jagger. Hudson Jeans also is considering the launch of a retail concept.
This story first appeared in the July 22, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“One of the key things the investment allows us to do is further the creative process,” chief executive officer Peter Kim said. “When Hudson was founded, the vision was to be the next great iconic brand. The investment brought us resources to take this business from where we are today to where we expect to be when we grow up.”
Advertising executive David Lipman, who is one of Hudson’s investors and an operating partner at Fireman Capital, has taken on the creative direction of the campaign. He also is chairman of Lipman, the agency handling the account, and tapped 17-year-old Jagger for the campaign, which was shot last month in London by Mario Sorrenti and styled by Camilla Nickerson.
“It’s all about her genes — literally and figuratively,” Lipman said at the shoot in an East London studio. “It’s all about the heritage of having Mick Jagger as a dad and Jerry Hall as a mum. But more than anything, it’s her spirit that captivates me.”
Lipman noted that Jagger’s English and American lineage mirrors Hudson’s brand, which has a Union Jack logo. Among the campaign images are ones of Jagger wearing denim cutoffs and lounging on a Union Jack pillow or posing in ripped, bleached jeans against the background of an elegantly disheveled apartment, complete with beat-up leather armchairs and worn afghan rugs.
“It’s the biggest campaign we’ve ever done, and it will take the brand to that next level,” Kim said.
Dan Fireman, chairman of Hudson and managing partner at Fireman Capital, said he sees the fresh direction as “a game changer” for the company: “It’s going to help sell-throughs in an environment where, frankly, things are tighter.”
Kim said the company’s sales could grow 10 to 25 percent during the current fiscal year.
“Hudson without Fireman Capital got to $50 million in sales last year, so it’s almost like they had one weapon before, and now they have a whole arsenal,” Fireman said.
Kim added that Hudson’s product offerings will gradually evolve. “We will always be focused on the core product. It’s still a very relevant and important piece of the market,” he said, noting that the brand’s signature is “a fashion basic jean” known for its fit and flattering cut.
Kim acknowledged plans to start “layering in pieces that are a little bit more fashionable with some of the groups.” To that end, some of the customized jeans Jagger wears in the campaign will be available at selected retailers and have inspired future Hudson designs. Kim said the brand is starting to look toward expanding its offerings — such as the ripped denim jeans and lace-back jeans Jagger wears in the campaign — and putting more emphasis on its men’s wear.
Despite the gloomy economic environment, premium denim is showing resilience. “In 2008, the premium denim category grew, which is a pretty amazing thing — most industries probably went backward,” Kim said.
Sales of premium jeans rose 16 percent last year compared with 2007, according to research firm The NPD Group.
As for the company’s interest in breaking into retail, “We have our eyes on it, but it will be nothing like the retail you see today,” Kim said. “If we’re going to do retail, it’s got to be special, different, and offer something that other people are not.”
Hudson is sold at stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harrods and Selfridges.
To underscore the brand’s authenticity, Jagger’s boyfriend, musician Django James, the son of musicians Dave Stewart and Siobhan Fahey, also appears in one of the campaign shots.
“We thought, how magical would it be to bring in a real relationship, and put that into something that we could communicate with the rest of the world?” Kim said.
Lipman added, while Hudson Jeans has a three-year contract with Jagger, it’s structured in such a way that both parties have first refusal after a year. “We don’t want to put someone in a contract and they look at it after a year and go, ‘I’m just hawking this thing,’” Lipman said. “We made it a unique contract because we want this to be pure and real.”