Sanctuary spring ad campaign for April 2017

Even as once sizzling start-ups such as Nasty Gal sputter, Sanctuary is finding its groove after 20 years in business.

Having billed itself as an alternative to denim with its signature Army Green pants, the Burbank, Calif.-based brand is growing sales buoyed by its first print ad campaign and plans to introduce shoes and men’s clothing.

Backed by Camuto Group, which acquired a 50 percent stake in 2008, Sanctuary released its first print ad campaign in the March issues of Harper’s Bazaar and InStyle. Photographed by Bjorn Iooss under the art direction of Olivia Windisch, Esther Heesch poses sensually with a shirtless male model. Wearing a feminine blouse that has helped Sanctuary become a staple in stores such as Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Anthropologie, Heesch models shredded cutoffs and a faded jean jacket from the brand’s denim collection, which made its debut for spring.

The edict for the campaign was simple, said Deb Polanco, creative director of Sanctuary. “For our anniversary, let’s put everything in blue,” she said. “We wanted it to feel familiar. That’s why it has the late Eighties, Nineties vibe to it.”

Sanctuary spring ad campaign for March 2017

Sanctuary’s spring ad campaign highlighting its new denim collection.  Bjorn Iooss

Supplemented by digital ads on social media, the campaign is a harbinger to what Polanco hopes will be continued campaigns in the fall and next year.

Sanctuary is on a roll. With $135 million in annual sales, “2016 was our best year in our career,” she said. Thanks to expanding categories such as denim and increasing the number of wholesale doors and its selling space within stores, the company projects sales of $150 million this year.

“The only thing missing is shoes. The cards are definitely on the table. We’re partners with the Camuto Group,” Polanco said. The earliest introduction of shoes would be in 2018. Since she designed a few pieces for the male model to wear in the spring campaign, she said men’s clothing is also a consideration.

For all its products, the key to success remains the same. “If you make quality product and give her value, it sells itself,” Polanco said. “And be relevant. We try to be on trend and not trendy.”

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