True Religion Apparel Inc. has named industry veteran Lynne Koplin as chief operating officer.

This story first appeared in the January 7, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Koplin will oversee many of the denim firm’s day-to-day operations and will report to Jeffrey Lubell, founder, chairman and chief executive officer. Koplin was most recently president of the Tommy Bahama women’s division at Oxford Industries Inc., a position she held since July 2005. Before that, she was president and ceo of Apparel Ventures Inc.

“This is an important hire for our company as we are committed to continue to invest in and build our management team in order to continue to grow our business domestically and internationally,” Lubell said. “During her tenure within the apparel industry, [Koplin] has managed all aspects of branded apparel operations and we are confident that her hands-on industry experience will prove invaluable as we look to build upon True Religion’s position as a fast-growing global apparel brand.”

Much of Koplin’s experience has been in the swimwear market. She got her start in fashion working at the now-defunct San Francisco department store I. Magnin, where she met swimwear legend Anne Cole. Later, Koplin ran the Anne Cole line and designer business at Warnaco before working at Apparel Ventures. When she began running the swim license for Tommy Bahama at Apparel Ventures, Christian Francis Roth was Tommy Bahama’s design director. Roth eventually left, and Tommy Bahama’s license with Apparel Ventures expired at the same time her contract with the Gardena, Calif.-based swim manufacturer finished in 2005. At that point, Tommy Bahama asked her to take the swim business in-house.

Koplin joins a company that has weathered the recession better than most.

Results for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 showed the company to be on solid footing heading into the end of last year and the spring season. Earnings for the first nine months of the 2009 improved 3.3 percent to $32.7 million, or $1.35 a share, compared with earnings of $31.7 million, or $1.31 a share, in the same period a year ago. Sales rose 10.7 percent to $218.2 million, prompting management to increase its guidance for the year and target total sales of $295 million to $300 million.

Wall Street analysts expect the brand to have been a top performer during the holiday season. True Religion posted strong sales and claimed more ground in the department store channel in December, according to a Dec. 21 report by Eric Beder, retail analyst at Brean Murray, Carret & Co.

“We are seeing the flow of new True Religion bottoms at Bloomie’s women’s, including satin leggings, and a new rivet-and-button-driven etching offering,” Beder said. “We believe True Religion has continued to take further share in the department store space, with this year’s offerings at a much higher level of full-price selling.”

Todd Slater, managing director and specialty retail, apparel and footwear analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, compared the company with “an early stage Coach” in a research note released on Tuesday.

“With a young store base of 70 [company] owned locations, 55 [of which] opened in the last two years, [True Religion] can more than double in the U.S., with further upside internationally,” Slater said.

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