Economy Down, Denim Up

Amid the not-so-good U.S. economy, our premium denim clients (True Religion, Paige Premium Denim, 7 for all Mankind) are still in high demand…

At the PROJECT show in Las Vegas, where U.S. buyers connect with apparel brands, all the focus was on high-end denim, where prices routinely hit $200 or more.

Walking the show, denim as a category was the busiest category. And True Religion was by far the busiest,” said Needham & Co analyst Christine Chen. The company is known for a horseshoe design stitched onto its back pockets.

The premium denim market held up over the holiday quarter and first part of this year, when other apparel categories saw plummeting sales from the sharp pullback in consumer spending.

That may be because premium jeans can be worn day or night and for special occasions, and cost the same as a dress.

The $1.32 billion market grew 5 percent in the 12 months ended June, according to research firm NPD Group. Sales in the overall apparel industry slid 5 percent in the same timeframe.

True Religion stock has risen 77 percent since January, compared to the 11 percent rise at the S&P 500 Index.

At the tony San Francisco boutique Sarah Shaw, young women in their 20s as well as mothers wanting to show off their figures shell out $184 for a pair of Paige premium denim.

The price tag doesn’t faze them, said Alexandra Faay, manager and assistant buyer — what’s important is fit.

“It’s all about the quality. You can go to Gap and you can go to Old Navy and get your cheap fix on denim but these ladies are spending $200 because they know they’ll last,” she said.

–Alexandria Sage for Rueturs

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