We all know that denim is forever: there’s not another fashion category that remains popular season after season, year after year. The trick is to convince customers of the need to buy new jeans every season. For spring ‘22, the reasons are many: innovative fabric technology, lighter weights, exceptional fits, beautiful colors and patterns, new models, and sustainable fabrics and production methods.
Here, five key vendors give us their take from the Dallas and Chicago shows.
34 Heritage: Richard Binder reports strong business in virtually all categories, driven by color and expanded replenishment programs. The excitement at the shows, he notes, was in 34’s sateen twills (cotton/lyocell/elastin) in sophisticated colors, cross weave linen looks, lightweight stretch summer denims, and knitted denim (selling really well for most stores). “Our expanded replenishment programs are fueling the growth,” he explains. “We offer in-stock programs on waist sizes 30-50 in multiple inseams. Retail prices remain at $175-$195.”
Two other notable points: 1.) Runway fashion to the contrary, retailers have not been asking for looser fits. “If anything,” says Binder, “our 14-inch bottoms are coming on strong although our Courage model (15-inch bottom) is still the top seller.” And 2.) Deliveries have not been a problem. “We own our production facilities in Turkey, and our retail accounts have already been receiving fall goods.”
Jack of Spades: Much excitement here at this luxury denim maker with the addition of softly-washed denim jackets, $70 cost for a $175 suggested retail. Using innovative fabrics in great fashion colors and showing several new models, the jeans collection looks better than ever! Especially hot, says Daniel Mann, is the hand-knitted denim jean which has already taken off in numerous stores. “This soft comfortable modern jean is getting us into new doors and is expanding the collection in existing doors.”
Also exciting, some great marketing material now making the rounds on social media (and in the latest issue of MR!)
Liverpool: “Our goal is to protect the retailers’ MSRP,” says Liverpool’s Mark D’Angelo, “which means I take goods back to alleviate their markdowns. I’d much rather do this than watch retailers promote in-season. Our men’s jeans retail from $98-$109 giving stores a 61 percent markup. We offer men’s sizes 28-42 (including odd sizes) in inseams 30, 32 and 34. We also do a replenishment program in both denim and twill.”
Another plus is Liverpool’s focus on sustainability: their washing process uses 4 liters of water rather than 50 gallons; another process extracts water and then recycles it. They use only vegetable dyes, laser sanding, and non-coated biodegradable metals. “Our goal is to be 100 percent sustainable within the next two years.”
D’Angelo also describes a referral program that gives retailers credit toward future purchases. As he explains it, “If one of our current retailer accounts refers another retailer to us and we open and ship them, the account who referred them gets a $250 credit towards an open invoice. They can refer up to four accounts.”
In addition to jeans, Liverpool recently launched a strong collection of cotton/acrylic sweaters ($79-$98 retails). And a hot item on virtually every order: colorful twill shorts!
Devil Dog Dungarees: More than ever, Sean Connelly is grateful to have production in this hemisphere (Central America). “We have a unique front-loaded position: we brought in goods early so fall product is on the shelves and in stock.” With an MSRP of $79 and an authentic backstory (the brand was created in 1948 to honor WW11 Marines; it currently partners with and donates to the Wounded Warrior Project), Devil Dog is gaining traction in aspirational to premium stores. In addition to jeans, the company has launched a cool collection of Americana printed tees, $28 MSRP, and some denim-friendly chambray military jackets. With a new PR team, the brand is newly focused on social media and special events.
Fidelity Denim, Modern American, Live Live: Fidelity is an upscale denim maker producing men’s and women’s fashion jeans in the $185-$286 price range. Modern American is a newer division of Fidelity targeting younger customers and producing jeans in a sustainable manner. It boasts minimal impact on the environment by using eco-friendly cotton and recycling methods that reduce water usage by 60 percent. Models include slimmer silhouettes, straight legs, and washed-out looks at retails from $128 to $148.
To complement these great denim brands, Mario Ranieri showed a concept he founded during COVID called Live Live, an inspirational tee shirt collection ($65 to $95 retails) that donates five percent of its sales to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Says Ranieri, “It’s a brand rooted in the idea of living in the moment and aspiring to be the best at whatever we do. This isn’t your basic T-shirt: it’s Peruvian Pima cotton, pre-shrunk, made to last, and designed to support denim, active and athleisure assortments. What’s also special, we requisition prints from local artist communities and share profits with the creators. Viewing fashion as a form of self-expression, we include encouraging messages (“follow your heart,” poetry clips) in the garments.”
In addition to a replenishment program for core basics, Live Live is adding hoodies and joggers for Holiday selling.