Jean makers get creative in wooing buyers

In a turn toward the practical, the latest thing in denim is for jean brands to work closely with retailers to advance their marketing and branding presence on the sales floor, reported WWD.

It’s always been important to nurture strong relationships with buyers. But now, as economic woes and poor sales persist, jeans makers are inspired to concoct a more assertive approach. After all, the industry is a competitive one, and failure to make those sales means stores give brands the boot.

“This is a bull’s-eye economy,” Gina Bloomingdale, vice president of sales at Los Angeles-based Habitual, told WWD. “People are dropping lines and closing their doors. Before, if you had a 50 percent sell-through, you were OK. Now, if you’re not getting a 60 percent sell-through, they’re not coming back to see you.”

This stiff competition has lead some companies to take more off-the-wall measures. Bloomingdale and staff, for example, have penned personal thank you notes to new wholesale accounts in an effort to woo buyers.

Other tactics are also original, ranging from incentives to buyers who pay on time from New York’s Vintage Revolution to instructional videos to teach sales associates about trends from William Rast.

“You can’t put the onus on the store,” Rick Spielberg, president of wholesale at William Rast, said to WWD. “The onus is on the manufacturer.”

Jumping on this trend, London’s MiH Jeans created a slim rolled-cuff trousers expressly for J. Crew, plus fashioned a banner of a woman dancing in flare jeans for, which was greeted with such success that the look sold out half an hour after posting.

“It’s a small investment of time and finance to support a store that wants to grow with you,” said Chloe Lonsdale, founder of MiH Jeans.

These waves have even hit celebrity designers, such as Kellan Lutz, a star from the “Twilight” series. To convince retailers to purchase his clothing collection, Abbot + Main, he offered to jet all the way out to the Midwest to put in a personal experience at their store. Now he is getting offers from stores who say they will buy the line if he again makes a personal appearance. He swiftly agreed.

To court those buyers, Hudson Jeans threw a 50th anniversary bash for Seattle’s Mario’s and hosted shindigs at some Nordstroms in California.

“It’s not easy,” Tony Chu, a vice president at Hudson Jeans, said. “You can’t just turn on the partnership switch. You have to physically, financially, emotionally [and] spiritually invest in the process.”

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