Jeff Rudes (J Brand): "We have narrowed down our collection to make it easier for retailers"
We had the opportunity to interview J Brand CEO, Jeff Rudes, during his recent trip to Paris to present the brand’s Spring-Summer 2013 collection. Not only was it the perfect opportunity to talk upcoming trends, but to also discuss future projects on the horizon for the premium denim brand. The label is known for its selection of jeans, retailing anywhere between 200 and 450 dollars. Mostly owned by investment fund Star Avenue Capital, J Brand made 150 million dollars in 2011, with current year sales bordering on 180 million dollars.
FashionMag.com: You are presenting your Spring-Summer 2013 collection in Paris. Does J Brand offer the same products in Europe as in the USA?
Jeff Rudes: Yes, the collections are the same. Our European clientele is the same as in the United States. You know, so many trends come out of Europe and our American customers are very inspired by what they see, be it in magazines or on the runway or whatever. Like in the US, J Brand is sold in great stores in Europe.
FM: What were you trying to achieve with this collection?
JR: We’ve narrowed our indigo jean collection significantly. We’ve gone from 15 to 8 different versions. Retailers are often overwhelmed with offers when it comes to denim, so it makes sense. We wanted to be able to offer them the perfect selection of jeans. With the traditional jean design, we have found that simplicity is key and with some styles we even decided to leave out rivets and selvage. Finishings and distressed details are much more discrete than they were two or three years ago.
FM: Did you take this same approach with the coloured and printed styles?
JR: Merchandising is really at the core of our strategy. We always build our collections by with store’s viewpoints in mind. Having a variety of colours and prints allows us to offer to retailers a selection of jeans that work well together. It is important to work with the store.
We have also done some work our boyfriend jean. We have tailored it in a modern way and we feel it has real potential. We have also developed specific denim and linen mix fabric that is great for summer.
FM: This is your third season for the ready-to-wear collection. How do you feel the line is doing?
JR: We are really very satisfied with our ready-to-wear collection. Our customers are the same as for our jeans, so we are very happy that they are able to identify with the clothes. The whole idea was to create an easy yet sophisticated collection. They key word is ‘effortless’.
FM: What have you got in store for menswear?
JR: Menswear makes up 10% of our sales, but this percentage is steadily increasing in the American market. We are seeing a similar thing happening to when we launched women’s wear, seven years ago. We are currently in the process of recruiting a designer and the men’s ready-to-wear line is due to launch next year.
FM: Are you going to branch out into other products, either in house or through license agreements? Are there any plans for J Brand flagship stores?
JR: We are thinking about creating an accessories or a shoe line but our main priority is to focus on the growth of our ready-to-wear collections. It is an important step for opening stores. We have been talking about flagships with plans to open in United States in 2013 and 2014. For Europe it will more likely be in 2014.
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