Looks from the William Rast fall 2016 collection.


Sequential Brands Group has signed a license for its William Rast brand with One Jeanswear Group.

Cofounded by Justin Timberlake and Trace Ayala in 2005, the brand is majority owned by Sequential, a brand management firm. Timberlake and Ayala continue to own a stake. The brand is an exclusive at Canada’s Hudson’s Bay department stores. Both the tailored and sportswear lines are available exclusively in the U.S. at Lord & Taylor, and it is available in select stores in Europe.

This story first appeared in the February 13, 2016 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Now that the exclusivity at Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor are nearing an end, Jack Gross, chief executive officer of One Jeanswear, is looking to build channel distribution for the brand. The first collection under the new agreement is slated for fall.

Gross has been working with Sequential in the past year since it is a Jessica Simpson licensee, in which Sequential also holds a majority stake. “William Rast piqued my interest. We wanted to enter the men’s business and we didn’t have a vehicle for that….This is a big opportunity to distribute it to the department store channel and build it into a megabrand,” Gross said.

Marcella Lindeberg is the design director for the brand. According to Gross, his team is responsible for design, sourcing execution and sales, although that is also all done in collaboration with Sequential and Lindeberg in terms of brand direction.

William Rast is known for its denim offerings, which include elevated fabrics, fits and premium washes. “There are lots of components that make it different. The product has to be right. We call it rock ‘n’ roll with an edge,” Gross said.

Price points for women’s and men’s lines are comparable, with bottoms ranging from $79 to $110 and tops from $30 to $80. For outerwear, $89 is the entry-level price, but could run as high as $160 for men’s and $200 for women’s.

According to Gross, there are enough points of differentiation between Jessica Simpson and William Rast so consumers see them as two separate brands with different points of view.

“We certainly don’t want to duplicate and [have the two brands] cannibalize each other….The Jessica Simpson brand is the girl next door. She’s sweet, and a junior or contemporary customer. For Rast, its Tennessee meets Hollywood. There’s a distinct edge and it has more elevated progressive washes and details,” Gross said.

As for denim in general, Gross said the category is back on the rise, noting that there were some lackluster years mostly due to a lack of newness. “The customer is embracing newness. Now it’s not about the price point. The feel of the fabric is important,” he said.

“Colored denim is still very important. We are very strong in color in all of my brands, whether that’s colored denim, twills or chinos,” Gross said. Further, destruction is now evolving look, with heavy destruction evolving into a look that’s worn, or relaxed and broken in.

Gross said the brand targets young men from their late teens up to 35 or 40-plus, while for women’s it’s more 18 to 35.

Jameel Spencer, Sequential’s division president of fashion and entertainment, said singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist “Tori Kelly will continue as the brand ambassador for William Rast.” The company has completed a photo shoot of the line to show buyers, but probably won’t shoot the ad campaign until closer to the fall season.

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