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WWD Denim Summit – L.A.

Yesterday was the WWD Denim Summit in Los Angeles, and we went over to the venue at the Roosevelt Hotel to check it out. 

The WWD Denim Summit gathered leaders of the industry to address the solutions to the sector’s most pressing issues: new fabrics and fibers that reflect consumers’ changing tastes, technology that offers solutions for sustainability and transparency, strategies to bring sustainable denim up to par with regular fabrics—and more.

Presenters included Shubhankar Ray, G- Star Raw Global Brand Director; Andy Dunn, Founder of Bonobos; Alberto Candiani, Global Manager at TRC Candiani; Mark Werts of American Rag; Emily Current and Meritt Elliott, founders of Current/Elliott; and Barry Miguel from 7 For All Mankind.

Shubhankar Ray from G-Star presented an engaging talk discussing denim as a mass market sector that cuts through age, sexuality, gender and high/low markets. As thedriving force behind G-Star’s positioning and projection, he spoke about how size isn’t everything and the impact of what something says about a brand means much more. He coined the phrase Hyphen-nation, referring to a never-ending production line of new products that constantly reinvents a brand, and referenced Mass Customization, which states that even the Mass markets want a specific and personal product for them. This idea led to the launch of their Raw Tailor studio.

Andy Dunn captivated the audience with his online experiences, moving from what he calls “the best pants” at Bonobos to his L.A. Made denim line in collaboration with Cone’s White Oak plant. He created a separate website to talk solely about denim and cited storytelling as a key seller behind his clothing. He told attendees, “you have to be both in online and in store” to make it work in today’s market, citing a recent partnership with Nordstrom as a stepping stone for his business.

Mark Werts from American Rag spoke about his life story in the business, beginning with The Salty Dog as his first venture in Holland. Early on he realized customer service was all-important and he opened specialty stores with the same terms and conditions as department stores. He also spoke of his latest ventures: opening  Industrie Denim in Dallas and New York City.

Alberto Candiani, Global Manager TRC Candiani, spoke on his specialist subject of laundries, telling the audience, “Denim is the most democratic fabric on Earth.” He spoke at length about sustainability being the most important subject right now and the concept that a product has to respect both the people (from the worker to the consumer) and the environment. He addressed the subject “Is Sustainability a marketing tool?,” saying, “No, today it’s different. Innovation is finally meeting sustainability. The product looks good, or better than others and has the same price or even less.” He used his latest product, Indigo Juice as an example. Candiani launched several shades of 100% indigo and 100% sulfur which work with laser and ozone treatments. Laundries are able to wash with less chemicals and far less water. He also started his own blog,  www.denimfreaks.com, to share his knowledge and reveal behind-the-scenes info about the denim industry.

We also gleaned some takeaway notes on what makes successful denim from Susan Kaufman – Editor of People Magazine Stylewatch:

  • Limited editions
  • Flash Sales
  • Outreach to Celebs & Stylists
  • Value and Price Points
  • Editorial Content
  • Pinterest/Social Media

So there you go- just some of the day’s findings!

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