“We Are Made for This” is the rallying cry made by premium denim brand Seven For All Mankind — and the name of its newly launched campaign for fall 2020, which features retro Seventies-style high-waisted flare jeans, prim puff sleeves, svelte leather looks and a message of unity for the brand and shoppers alike.
Sanguine as it sounds, its apropos global campaign serves up a much-needed dose of optimism across the fashion industry and simultaneously delivers a nostalgic and deliciously autumnal collection. The brand explained that its “We Are Made for This” campaign was captured by four photographers known for their “expressive and connective” work tasked with creating authentic portraits of subjects in their home and neighborhood during the COVID-19 shutdown: Ryan Duffin, New York City; Ronan McKenzie, London; Vitali Gelwich, Berlin, and Justin Chung, Dallas.
Here, Suzanne Silverstein, president of Seven For All Mankind, talks to WWD about its new campaign, burgeoning sustainability and how the brand — and shopper — evolved during the coronavirus pandemic.
WWD: What inspired this campaign? How do the images convey Seven For All Mankind’s mission and values?
Suzanne Silverstein: We are in a time of profound change where introspection is critical for brands, businesses and individuals. This gave us an opportunity to lean into how Seven has evolved as a brand over the last 20 years. Our strength and longevity as a brand and community was the inspiration for the “We Are Made for This” campaign. We, as a brand and organization, are made for times of challenge, success and change — and so is our community. And connection to the community now, more than ever, is paramount.
It was also important for us to tell a global story to celebrate and unify our communities. This is our first global campaign shot in the cities of London, Berlin, Dallas and New York City.
Through the lens of four photographers, we captured inspiring individuals (not models) in their own safe spaces during the shutdown, from backyards to living rooms. Each individual authentically brought to life one of the seven shared brand and community values and how that value communicated what it means to be “Made for This.”
Our 20-year history is built on creating brand experiences and values and we believe those are reflective of our customers and potential customers we invite into the brand. Our values — conversation, expression, authenticity, curiosity, purpose, connection and undeniable style — are our brand’s building blocks and unite us.
“We Are Made for This” is intended to be an ongoing narrative for the brand. It’s a vehicle to celebrate values and how our community brings them to life. For holiday, we are focusing on people who have started philanthropic causes or live a volunteerism driven life.
WWD: How does Seven For All Mankind use denim for good?
S.S.: Denim is the foundation of our wardrobes. It’s the one single piece that we all go back to and build our daily looks from. We introduced the concept of day to night denim 20 years — it’s part of our DNA to continue to develop innovative fabrics, fits and styles that evolve with how we are living our lives and wearing denim.
In May 2020, we announced our “Sustainable For All Mankind” initiative, which outlines the goal of 80 percent of our products having sustainable properties by the year 2023. This program was developed after five months of intensive internal process and procedure studies to make our practices more sustainable through three pillars: materials, manufacturing and mankind. We debuted our first pairs with sustainable properties in spring 2020 with the relaunch of the jean that started it all for us, the 080. We used organic cotton, recycled elastane, recycled hardware and an eco-friendly wash process.
We are also living our brand values to engage our internal community of associates by introducing a new educational platform, 7U (7 University), for our corporate teams. 7U is a teaching program where we leverage the experts in the company and these experts shared their many years of knowledge on different business topics. Classes being offered include: Production 101, Retail Math 101, Buying 101, Marketing 101, Social Media 101 and product-focused classes that takes you through the design and development of key categories for us. This fall, it’s coated denim and our new Tech series, which is a wrinkle and water-resistant pant for men. 7U will also extend to our store-based associates as well.
WWD: What is your perspective on the state of the denim industry due to the global impacts of COVID-19? What trends might we see emerge in denim?
S.S.: Comfort, quality and versatility are imperative. People want pieces and wardrobes that can take them from work at home/office, to picking up kids, to running errands, to out to dinner with style, comfort and durability. Buying habits have changed. Customers want to buy less but buy better. We’re seeing customers gravitate to products that have a story, that can be traced from their production origin, that have innovative, multipurpose usage. We’ve always been a brand committed to producing the highest-quality products. We have customers that love to show us pairs that they’ve had for 10, 15, 20 years. Stretch and performance pieces are a very important part of our assortment.
We’re well positioned for this consumer pivot. Stretch has been a founding principle in our denim design. We’ve launched a new program for men, the Tech series that features a wrinkle and water-resistant chino and five pocket pant. It is the ultimate go-anywhere, work-from-anywhere, do-anything collection that offers comfort, function and style. This pant goes from office to casual to active so seamlessly. We are debuting a Tech jacket for holiday and more styles in the future to complement this lifestyle.
WWD: How has the pandemic affected the denim consumer and consumerism itself? Will COVID-19 forever change how we shop?
S.S.: There will come a time, very shortly, if it hasn’t already begun, where people will tire of the lounge/sweatpant life and denim will again become the foundation of their wardrobe.
Consumers’ lives have changed dramatically, in the short term, due to COVID-19. Their needs have changed and they have shopped differently. Overly trend-driven and disposable things are being replaced by a desire for goods and services that are sustainable and have longevity. Seasonality is also being blurred with customers seeking pieces that build a wardrobe that can be worn season to season.
Denim needs to stay relevant with how people living their lives — comfort is a key principle. People are looking for denim that has stretch but doesn’t stretch out of shape. People want easy-care, rtw items that don’t have to go to the dry cleaner, so we are focusing on those types of items that can be easily cared for at home.
WWD: How has Seven For All Mankind adapted or evolved during the pandemic?
S.S.: Developing our “Made for This” campaign and 7U program were important evolutions for the brand as it illustrates a commitment to our communities both internally and externally. It’s an important step to show that we are not pulling back on investing but rather doubling down for the future.
We are focusing on digital and social, heavily. Our digital business is up double digits — there is demand for denim and not just sweatpants. We formed digital selling partnerships during the shutdown that will debut in the next few weeks. Some initiatives involve shop-a-longs with influencers on our web site and others involving influencers doing Instagram lives with their audiences focused on the Seven For All Mankind fall collection with bounceback incentives to shop our site.
Engagement and entertainment are important connective tools and we have a slate of giphys and filters ready to launch for fall in the coming weeks. Our spring “Remember Your First” filter had a moment on TikTok so we are excited to provide a bit of fun to the social experience.
Our fall influencer program features mega-, mid- and micro-influencers focused on the style and versatility of our women’s coated denim capsule and the innovative and for all occasions water and wrinkle repellant Tech pant for men.
WWD: What are some of the unique or creative ways the brand is reaching/communicating with the consumer?
S.S.: During the shutdown, we thought a lot about small businesses that surround us in the communities where we have stores. We have a “Community First” approach for the towns and cities we have retail stores in. We feel it’s our responsibility to be an active part of that community, from both a charitable and good citizen point of view. Our teams began working on a support program called Community 7 that offers our platforms to help promote small businesses through retail store space and social storytelling. Our first three markets are New York City, Charlotte, N.C. and South Beach, Fla.
We are dedicating in-store space to sell these products on a consignment basis and then amplifying these businesses through digital, social and clienteling exposure. We are sharing our audiences and resources with these brands. Our partnership in South Beach is with an artist named Felipe Centeno, and his artwork hangs in our windows and inside our store — all available for purchase. We have counter cards that tell his story and we are clienteling to our best customers about the partnership.
In New York City, we are excited to debut our partnership with Patrice Sosoo and her Little Gems brand. We will be carrying her T-shirts and totes in our three New York City area stores (Bleecker, SoHo, Madison). In addition, she writes an amazing newsletter featuring “Little Gems” of life lessons she’s learned and will be sharing those with our Seven audience through our e-mail program, web site and on paid and organic social. We have a partnership with a jewelry brand we are working on in Charlotte that will launch in October. The teams are excited about these partnerships and the local comrade and exposure they are creating.
Living by our values and giving back are the most important initiatives we’ve been focusing on. For the past 10 months, we’ve been researching and developing our “Love for All Mankind” charitable initiative. We’ve done exhaustive quantitative and qualitative research with both our customers and our internal associates about the philanthropic causes that are important to them.
Our program will focus on three pillars of causes: social/civic issues, sustainability and youth development/education. Program initiatives will include fund-raising, awareness, volunteer and mentoring opportunities as well as limited-edition product capsules to help contribute to driving real change for mankind. “Love for All Mankind” launches in late October.
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