Upscale Jeans Focused on Market Share Gains
Upscale jeans brands are taking different approaches to try and gain market share now with an eye to the future when affluent consumers will feel better about spending $100, $200 and more on a pair of jeans.
For Seven For All Mankind (Seven), the plan is to open new stores. According to Shopping Centers Today (SCT), the pricey denim brand (jeans retail for $145 to $233) opened its third store in Malibu, Cal. in May and plans to open another nine locations by year’s end. Next year, Seven plans to be even more aggressive in opening 20 new outlets.
A survey by American Affluence Research Center (AARC) found that 80 percent of those in the top five percent of income plan to spend about the same over the next six months on designer fashions. Sixteen percent said they would cut back and only four percent planned to spend more.
“It may seem strange that brands with high price points like Seven For All Mankind and True Religion are opting to roll out stores right now, when things are going well for them where they are, but that might be key to their long-term survival,” Kelly Tackett, a senior consultant at TNS Retail Forward, told SCT. “The designer denim trend may have run out just a bit, so these brands are looking for other ways to expand their sales, like with footwear, accessories, T-shirts and handbags.”
Seven is among the upscale denim brands looking to diversify. The company plans to roll out footwear and outerwear lines next spring. “Denim will always be a huge wardrobe staple,” Ms. Tackett said. “But these brands are learning that they need to branch out and become more in the minds of consumers than just a pair of jeans.”
While some are opening stores to gain market share or expand their product offerings, others are looking to more moderately priced spinoffs to attract a new group of consumers along with brand loyalists.
Frankie B. jeans, which retail between $165 and $235, will debut the Frankie B. Originals line this fall. The new line will offer jeans priced between $115 and $160.
“The luxury consumer doesn’t mind shelling out for a pair of designer jeans, but with everyone and their brother coming out with expensive jeans, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be the ‘it’ brand,” Ms. Tackett said. “Chip & Pepper going in to J.C. Penney, and Frankie B. coming out with a lower-priced diffusion line are just different ways these high-end brands are mitigating the risk in a tough market.”
Discussion Questions: What do you think are the soundest strategies to pursue for upscale denim designers looking to grab greater share of the affluent consumer’s purse? Is there a particular high-end denim brand that you think is in a good position to grab market share in the near term?