The Los Angeles denim company boasts a contemporary aesthetic at competitive pricing around the $60 to $80 range. Its sophisticated looks — dark washes, high waistlines and wide legs — have helped get its foot in about 200 doors so far throughout the U.S., including Lord & Taylor. It’s now working with distributors in Canada and Germany and is in talks with another in Japan with the aim of rolling out internationally for spring.
“There’s a lot of vintage inspiration in the line and definitely authentic approaches to washes,” said cofounder Ya-el Torbati. “For me, the key is you really have nothing without amazing fit and amazing fabric quality.”
Unpublished is for the customer with a more creative spirit, the creative director added, with a “wear what you want” approach to dressing that’s not swayed by brand names.
That’s translated in the current fall collection via released hems, patchwork, cropped wide-leg pants, chambray, overalls and high-waisted flare and skinny-leg denim. The pieces are designed in the neighborhood of Boyle Heights, located east of downtown, and then made overseas.
Torbati brings more than 15 years of industry experience, along with the brand’s other cofounder John Rhee, who owns Unpublished Denim’s parent The Group L.A., which has about 100 employees globally and does private label for retailers such as Urban Outfitters and American Eagle.
Next month will see Unpublished show at Coterie for the first time, with the brand later in the month launching e-commerce, although Rhee characterized the latter move as largely pragmatic given online sites are often the first touch point between brand and consumer. Otherwise, “I don’t think the purpose of e-commerce is necessarily to go direct-to-consumer or take away sales from our boutiques,” Rhee said. If the brand does well, brick-and-mortar showrooming concepts could make sense but the business is still too new to have any concrete plans in place for physical retail, the executive said.
Unpublished, at less than a year old, still has work to do to solidify its place in women’s denim. But the market dynamics are such that it’s coming in at the right time, Rhee said, as customers become less focused on a label and more on good design.
“I think what’s happening is that consumer wallets are becoming crunched and becoming crunched even more than before,” Rhee said. “People would rather spend money on experiences versus product and that is definitely translating into what we see in denim trends as well….There used to be a time when women refused to wear something that was not premium. More and more there are girls who don’t care about that.”
There’s a place for Unpublished if it can seize on that, its founders said, and they’re focused on building out the right denim brand and not letting their vision become cluttered with growth into other categories — at least in the short-term.
“Longer term if we’re successful in completely nailing denim and really growing a solid customer base, then building out a collection to supplement that lifestyle is absolutely something we’d like to lead. But we like to take it step by step,” Rhee said.
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