FROM ITS INAUGURAL NATIONAL AD CAMPAIGN TO EXPANDED DISTRIBUTION, TODD OLDHAM JEANS IS IN EXPANSION MODE.

In coming up with its first-ever national print advertising campaign, slated to bow in the spring, Todd Oldham Jeans opted for good, old-fashioned simplicity.

So instead of featuring gangly models posing provocatively in a stark studio, the jeansmaker and its New York ad agency, RDA, went for the boy- and girl-next-door, sitting around eating popcorn, in a series of ads that are wholesome, fresh and casual.

In short, quite a departure from the usual fashion magazine fare.

Chris Nicola, president of New York-based Todd Oldham Jeans, a division of Jones Apparel Group, said the idea was to capture what the average teenager does on an average night out, in a bid to make a splash with a campaign coinciding with the brand’s new and more expanded distribution network.

“We went for more realistic-looking people,” said Nicola. “They are still beautiful young Generation Y kids, but they are real-looking, pictured as they might be in real life.”

There are some quirky touches, too, like the front of the ads being shot as if taken from the inside of a pair of jeans.

“The idea is to show things from your perspective, as if you were looking at a snapshot of your life, and these are the jeans you wear in your everyday life,” he said.

The photography was done inside an actual New York apartment, showing the teens eating popcorn, sitting around on a sofa watching television, lounging on the floor around the bed, or looking like they are getting close to going out.”

Nicola said that unlike those of other jeans companies, the ads “are happy and fun, showing people smiling and having a good time.”

“When I looked at our competitors’ ads and the campaigns I liked, I wondered why the models always looked so serious, which seems to be contradictory to what this generation is all about,” he said. “They should be having fun, with none of the pressures that adults have.”

The ads will run in the March issues of teen magazines, including Teen People, Cosmo Girl and YM, and will come out at a time when Todd Oldham Jeans has more of a presence than ever.

The line, which made its debut some 18 months ago, is poised to go national. In addition to being in various specialty store chains, including Gadzooks and Vanity, shoppers may also find the line on the junior floors of Macy’s and Nordstrom on both coasts. Nicola said the company is “targeting department store business” in an effort to expand its reach.

“At a department store, we can open up the assortment a bit more so it looks like a collection and offers more variety,” he said. “Also, they tend to buy at a quicker pace as they are refreshing the floor monthly. And we have more of a crossover customer [at department stores].”

There are also plans to increase the brand’s global presence; Nicola said Todd Oldham Jeans would soon start selling in Canada, plus there are some accounts in London and other European cities, as well as Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

“But for now, our focus is definitely domestic, with our largest penetration in the Midwest, although that is starting to change with the department store accounts on both U.S. coasts,” he said.

Wherever it is, customers will see the kind of hip, young clothes that the brand is known for. The first group for fall, bowing at WWDMAGIC, will feature what Nicola described as “authentic-looking denim”: Extreme sandblasts, dirty washes, drilling and whiskering. Also to be showcased: plenty of rhinestones, glitter and beads.

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