True Religion Taps Gary Harvey as Creative Director

The former Levi’s merchandising executive has headed his own London-based consulting business for the past eight years.

True Religion Apparel Inc. has brought in former Levi’s merchandising executive Gary Harvey as creative director.

This story first appeared in the September 5, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

With the appointment, the Vernon, Calif.-based premium denim brand has filled the two posts previously held by True Religion founder Jeffrey Lubell, who stepped down as chief executive officer and creative director in March as the company tested the acquisition waters.

TowerBrook Capital agreed to acquire True Religion for $835 million in May and completed its purchase in July, at which time David Conn became ceo.

Harvey reports to Lynne Koplin, chief merchandising officer of True Religion, who lauded his “depth of experience in the denim and apparel industries, along with an impressive talent for both men’s and women’s design. He is able to combine the highest level of strategic thinking with an ability to inspire our team and roll up his sleeves to turn a vision into reality.”

For the past eight years, Harvey has headed his own London-based consulting business, Gary Harvey Creative, as owner and creative director, with a client roster that has included Levi’s, Adidas, Chanel, Diesel, DKNY, Nike and Revlon. Prior to that, he spent five years as creative director of Levi’s Europe and helped to engineer the brand’s turnaround on the continent.

“Gary will be the creative visionary for this brand, the person who sets the identity with respect to everything related to product and at every touch point the consumer has with the brand,” Conn told WWD, indicating stores, the e-commerce site at truereligionbrandjeans.com, advertising and social media will all fall under his purview.

Harvey called the opportunities for the 11-year-old True Religion “endless. We’re still relatively young, not hamstrung by history and don’t have a lot of the heritage baggage carried by a lot of brands. True Religion has been inspired by many of the great elements of the denim world, but open to a new definition.

“We will keep the brand denim-centric but build around that with aspirational fashion products,” he continued. “It’s a fantastically respected brand in the marketplace, and we can expand that by delivering the most up-to-date fashion, fits and styles for the customers we have today and those we want tomorrow.”

In just a little more than a month on the job, Conn said he has been particularly impressed by the “depth and strength” of the firm’s retail channel, which includes e-commerce as well as 130 stores in the U.S. and 33 in international markets. In the first six months of this year, while still publicly held, the company generated revenues of $237.4 million, 12.1 percent above the prior year.

Conn said he expects to make senior-level appointments in the areas of merchandising and marketing in the coming months.