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Ace Rivington on How to Sell Denim with a ‘Good Story’

Since launching his first Kickstarter centered on a French terry sweater in 2013, Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Ace Rivington founder Beau Lawrence has harnessed the power of storytelling.

In fact, his entire brand is the name of a fictional character he developed years ago, and the inspiration behind a 10-episode television series he pitched to a Los Angeles studio. If you ask Lawrence, compelling content—combined with a high-quality offering—is exactly the type of thing that builds a loyal customer base.

“You don’t have to be the biggest brand in the world to be successful,” he told Rivet. “If you tell a good story and if you build a good product, the community will help you.”

That same sentiment is the driving force behind his two latest projects: A partnership with the new DenimFWD “urban factory” and laundry located just outside of L.A. and an exclusive deal with Italian sneaker brand Diadora.

As consumers become more educated on sustainability and ethical supply chains, they’re turning their attention toward locally produced items. By signing on as the first brand partner for DenimFWD—a laundry facility led by former Jeanologia executive Carlos Arias—Ace Rivington is further appealing to evolving consumer demands.

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“Carlos and I have been friends for some time,” he said. “I came on with the intention of building the most creative and innovative product we could with all of the facility’s technology.”

Launched last year, the California-based facility offers brands of all sizes a sustainable laundry solution in the heart of the U.S. denim sector, which Arias says could incentivize brands to produce closer to home. Using state-of-the-art digital tools powered by technology partners like Jeanologia and Kornit, DenimFWD helps streamline finishing, design and development, minimizing samples and significantly reducing time to market.

Lawrence’s first products produced at DenimFWD include a range of screen-printed T-shirts and sweatshirts, followed by denim products.

“One of my dreams with Ace Rivington has been to continue to expand our perspective around being Earth-conscious in the most thoughtful way possible,” he said. “To have a stable dye resource in Los Angeles that can offer us that opportunity is a really big deal, especially as we consider all of the supply chain pressures and challenges we face today as a small brand.”

In addition to a local production story, nostalgia is another driving force for consumers today, as Y2K and ’90s apparel swivels back into the spotlight and encourages the return of low-rise jeans and looser fits. The label’s deal with Diadora, which began in May 2021, taps into consumers’ yearning for the past.

For years, the sneaker brand that catapulted to fame in the ’80s and ’90s has been focused on reviving its U.S. business, and tapped Ace Rivington to help it gain hold on the heritage market. The partnership inspired the companies to work with businesses local to the denim brand’s Santa Barbara shop and form a “Diadora + AR HomeGrown” video series to share their stories.

Ace Rivington founder Beau Lawrence explained how storytelling lends well to his latest partnerships with Diadora and DenimFWD.
Diadora footwear at Ace Rivington Courtesy

Launched last summer, the series profiles businesses looking to make a positive impact in their field. It debuted with an interview with Alejandro Medina, owner of Bibi Ji, a modern Indian eatery in Santa Barbara known as a destination for high-quality natural wines. Also featured in the series are Daniela Dunne, founder of charitable organization Carlin Dunne Foundation, Wallace Piatt, artist and founder at Rodeo Art Gallery, Roger Durling, executive director of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and Lawrence himself.

The marketing initiative helps underscore the importance of buying high-quality goods from trusted partners with unprecedented knowledge of their craft. According to Lawrence, the mission has been a success, with the 1984 hi-top sneaker—the same style worn by the Milan Basketball team—quickly becoming a top-selling item in the store. Diadora is the denim brand’s only footwear offering, and sells heritage men’s and women’s styles that range from $90-$240.

“So many people have their own personal Diadora stories,” he said. “If you played soccer when you were 12 years old, and those were the shoes that you wore, you probably still have a connection to the brand. People come into the store all day long and make comments on how nostalgic the shoes make them feel.”