Thomas Wylde is striving to break out of cult status with the most democratic of designs: denim.
The Los Angeles-based label, which is more recognized in Europe, Asia and the Middle East than in its home country, is banking on the American staple to broaden its customer base. Part of its pre-spring collection, the stand-alone line builds on the handful of denim styles that the brand integrated in its ready-to-wear. It also continues the company’s drive for diversification. For instance, eyewear is premiering at retail in the fall.
“We want to grow this brand organically,” said Jene Park, Thomas Wylde’s creative director, who joined the slick rocker-inspired label known for its metallic embellishments and luxe leather after a decade at BCBG Max Azria. “That has to have denim, knowing that L.A. is the capital of premium denim.”
Comprising 35 stockkeeping units, out of the total 260 units for the pre-spring collection, the made-in-L.A. denim retails from $350 to $850. Park tapped Marta Goldschmied, who is the daughter of denim guru Adriano Goldschmied and the founder of edgy jeans brand Made Gold, to help launch the line. Park’s goal is to use denim as the base for silhouettes that would fit with Thomas Wylde’s main line. For example, she adapted her signature shorts that have been cut out of supple lambskin leather and lined with ruffles along the slant pockets and hem. For customers who can’t afford the $2,000 leather version, the denim shorts in a cool blue wash appear to be more accessible at $350.
Other styles in the denim grouping include a jean jacket with French cuffs, high-waisted flares that expose the shins through a center slit, and skinny jeans that are ripped at the knees and accentuated with hematite Swarovski crystals on the back pocket.
Park plans to offer the denim to Thomas Wylde’s existing roster of 100 retailers, which include Harvey Nichols and 55 Croisette. She also wants to add select stores that specialize in denim. Targeting sales to be less than $5 million in the first year, she said that eventually “I’d like it to grow and be 20 percent of our business.”
To reach that level, she plans to build Thomas Wylde’s denim foundation, with unisex cuts, artist collaborations and a version of the leather harem pants she recently donned in her showroom. Even though she spent twice as long learning how to master denim as she did with leather, Park wants to spread her enthusiasm for the egalitarian fabric to her customers.
“Denim is so much fun. I love working with denim,” she said. “I want customers to say, ‘Oh, Thomas Wylde? Do you know the cool underground brand out of L.A.? They also do denim.’”