Nostalgic energy and modern collaborations as well as color, novelty washes, whipstitching, sticking to the brand DNA while adapting have kept True Religion going for two decades and retail buyers interested.
Here, merchants from leading retail organizations who know a thing or two about denim discuss what makes True Religion distinct and why it’s been around for two decades.
Susan Rinderknecht, men’s better denim buyer, Dillard’s
“The men’s piece [of True Religion] is much bigger than the women’s piece at Dillard’s. We’re in the South and our customers love color. They’ve always done a really good job with color. We work really hard together to adapt the line to the customers in my region. I think that’s part of the reason it’s so successful. They’re very open to doing the right things for the guy that we’re selling in this market. From day one, I’ve been able to work with their merchandisers and designers to adapt things to do what’s right for us. Their T-shirts are hands-down, great. It’s great styling, great color and great value for the money. We’ve got a very multi-cultural customer who buys it in this region. It’s urban, it’s Hispanic, it’s a little bit Western at this stage of the game.
“T-shirts are $59 to $79, fleece is $99 to $129, the core denim is $159-$169, but when you get to extreme washes and embellishments you get up to $199 to $229,” she said.
“Our customer is going for all of it. Dillard’s is different from most retailers because we’re very close to our stores and our customers. I buy differently for Mesquite, Texas as I do for Oklahoma City or New Orleans. We really try to customize it in the region as to what that customer is looking for. Some markets like my border stores want the cleaner denim, but when they get to New Orleans, they want tricked up.
“They’ve got the the horseshoe logo on the jeans, and a lot of their logo-ing is the Buddha. The guys love that Buddha. One of the jeans that we’re doing around their 20th anniversary is the horseshoe on the pocket and they used rainbow stitching. We’re re-launching that jeans with the rainbow stitching pocket. sometimes they’ll do the horseshoe in metallic, in gold or silver, or they’ll do red.
“Dillard’s has around 250 doors. We carry True Religion in 100. We focus on the top 100 doors,” she said. As far as what’s coming up, she said, “I think the rainbow jean will be really good. Their fleece does extremely well in the fall. It’s nothing fancy, it just be black zip hoodie with a matching pant with a gold embroidered horseshoe on the back or the leg. It always really sells.”
Molly Taylor, chief merchant, Saks Off 5th
“True Religion is an authentic denim brand which has never veered from its true DNA. The True Religion customer values the novelty washes, whipstitching and unparalleled fits. At Saks Off 5th, we continue to see strong demand for True Religion across categories.
“The resurgence of the bootcut silhouette is driving a recent uptick in the women’s business, with shoppers gravitating toward that fit. Within men’s, True Religion’s denim and sportswear continue to resonate strongly with our customer, especially their horseshoe and Buddha logo Ts.
“We look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with True Religion as it is a go-to, trusted brand for Saks Off 5th customers.”
Dalila Shannon, divisional merchandise manager, women’s brand collaborations, denim, Urban Outfitters
“I remember True Religion entering the market in the early 2000s, around the same time that big brands were starting to capitalize on the emerging American celebrity obsession. In my eyes True Religion always stood apart from the trendy brands of the ‘00s because of their attention to quality and construction, their unique and elevated stitching details, and their sexy silhouettes that embody the energy of youth. In a world increasingly fueled by trends, the longevity of True Religion denim in the zeitgeist is evidence that this this brand has fundamentally defined what American denim is.”
Antonio Gray, vice president, divisional merchandise manager of apparel, DTLR
“When True Religion launched, they had the appeal of a quintessential premium American denim brand. Consumers loved their overt details, like signature whipstitching and pocket flaps that exuded their version of the California lifestyle. True Religion seeks to channel that nostalgic energy through modern-day collaborations with tastemakers like Supreme, 2 Chainz, etc. Our best-selling styles continue to be denim with overt details and tops with similar True Religion design language.”
Pearleen Lederman, associate buyer, denim, for Macy’s
She said that True Religion continues to be a multigenerational staple within Macy’s. “Their commitment to quality and consumer needs has resulted in an extremely loyal customer base and they have truly solidified themselves within the higher denim market. Their price points hit the sweet spot for the Macy’s customer’s budget.”
Noting how True Religion attracts a wide range of customers, she said, “They continuously perform well with higher income consumers, but they have also increased their reach with consumers under the age of 40. Updates to their heavy stitch detailing alongside their well-known logo has helped them engage both a wider and younger audience.”
The Macy’s executive pointed to such bestseller as V-neck T-shirts “with beautiful designs and horseshoe logos. Fleece sets have been great, especially for our younger customer, since mixing and matching is a growing trend,” she said. “The iconic ‘Jennie’ denim fit always performs well with stitch detailing and studded horseshoe pockets.”
From Lederman’s standpoint, the consumer views True Religion as “authentic and unique.” She added, “Once known as a Y2K brand, they have now captured the younger audience by incorporating both streetwear and sportswear in their line. The relevancy of apparel for every day has made this brand evolve with the customer of today.”