PARIS — There’s a big blue void in the online world here, and a rash of new players are rushing to fill it.
Although 36 percent of women in France do their clothes shopping online, according to a study conducted in September by Fevad for the Institute of Fashion, dedicated denim sites have been few and far between.
“Denim is such a large market, but we don’t really have competitors. There is of course Asos and BrandAlley and La Redoute, but there is not a single player for denim,” said Raphael Madar, who, with Sébastien Méjean, launched Sojeans.com in September and has seen the ranks of its visitors swell to 60,000 a month since.
Backed by funding from private equity firm Capital Partners, Sojeans.com is an evolution of Jeans-homme.com, a men’s denim-focused site that the two entrepreneurs launched in June 2010.
Madar characterized the online denim market in France as relatively flat and still lagging behind other countries.
The young company is looking to break even with projected revenues of 4 million euros, or $5.4 million at current exchange rates, by the end of the year.
The site, which offers 21 brands, currently operates in France, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Italy. The three best-selling brands on Sojeans.com so far are Levi’s, G-Star and Diesel. Prices for jeans range from 55 euros, or $76, to 150 euros, or $210.
“It was difficult to convince some of the brands to come on board at first, but I think the importance is to retain exclusivity, develop a catalogue of brands and maintain brand loyalty,” said Madar, who expects to explore co-branding opportunities with labels in the future.
According to Mintel, 43 percent of adults have a preferred brand of jeans that they know will suit and fit them, making online purchases relatively simple.
“We don’t have a physical store but we are looking to replicate the service that you get from a physical retailer online,” said Madar.
He plans to add a tab called Soselect to the Sojeans Web site. “It will be like a personal service — you can enter measurements, sizes, brands and we will then propose jeans,” he said.
Another site looking to tap into the online denim arena is Unclejeans.com, founded by Michel Guenoun, which is slated to launch at the end of November. The online store will be linked to a 4,500 square-foot brick-and-mortar store in Marseille, France. Guenoun plans to offer 50 or so labels.