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Premium Denim Sales Decline: What Jean Companies Are Doing About It

August 4, 2009
7 For All Mankind Mens Jeans

7 For All Mankind Men's Jeans

There is a great article in USA Today about the decline of the premium denim market. There is also a good video on the page that is worth reading.

True Religion, which sells jeans that top out at $398, says its wholesale sales were down 17% in the first quarter, and sales at its stand-alone stores were down about 10%. It’s opening stores as fast as it can — more than 30 in the last year — but experts say it is still hampered by its reliance on luxury department stores.

“We really don’t believe consumers today understand the value of premium denim,” says Topher Gaylord, president of 7 for All Mankind, which is owned by VF. “It’s the whiskering of the denim, the wash … and taking raw denim and creating artistic interpretation.”

Much of Hollywood, Gaylord says, knows the “idea is to have a pair of jeans that look like you’ve owned them for 20 years.” And he says the hand distressing and other denim treatments make his production costs 10 times higher than jeans sold in the mass market.

There has also been a push in the premium denim world for  brands to open their own stores:

True Religion, which sells jeans that top out at $398, says its wholesale sales were down 17% in the first quarter, and sales at its stand-alone stores were down about 10%. It’s opening stores as fast as it can — more than 30 in the last year — but experts say it is still hampered by its reliance on luxury department stores.

“They’re still growing rapidly, but obviously the rate of growth will slow down,” says retail stock analyst Jennifer Black. “The question becomes, ‘Are people going to continue to spend $250 and, in some cases, over $300 for jeans?’ “

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