With a stronghold in the teen denim specialty market, American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) is stepping into the premium tier with a brand-new men’s and women’s brand that takes a “planet-first mindset” for design.
The company introduced Wednesday AE77, a denim range “meant to be lived in, repaired and recycled.”
“We created AE77 to make the best premium denim in the market,” said Chad Kessler, president of American Eagle premium brands. “The optimistic tension between denim design and sustainable craftsmanship is woven throughout the brand.”
All AE77 jeans are made with a focus on lowering their environmental impact through more sustainable techniques and machinery, the company stated. All fabrics are produced using sustainable raw materials “to all extents possible” while all cotton is sustainably sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative. AE77 boasts exclusive use of green chemistry in jeans production to reduce or eliminate hazardous substances commonly used in the washing of denim and works only with factories that meet AEO’s highest water requirements, exceeding requirements for water recycling, water management and wastewater.
To further the commitment to the planet, AE77 will pledge 1 percent of annual sales to non-profit organization 1% For the Planet.
Though American Eagle has been advancing its sustainable footprint with circular denim, this attention to sustainability comes at a higher price point. AE77 retails for $168-$188. In comparison, most new American Eagle jeans retail for $49.95-$69.95.
The premium denim collection leads with nine fits and heroes, including a classic fit tailored for both men and women. The men’s range, offered in sizes 28-36, includes slim and skinny fits. The women’s range, offered in sizes 23-33, includes western, straight, crop flare, bootcut and skinny fits. Vintage-inspired details, including washes named “5 year medium wash” and “15 year light destroy wash,” are found throughout the denim collection.
An assortment of tops that span recycled cashmere, made in L.A. knits, Japanese flannel and vintage fleece complement the jeans. Elevated dresses and tops with feminine touches of lace, pintuck detailing, ruffles and pointelle also pair back to the denim. Non-denim pieces retail from $28 for a bandana to $248 for recycled cashmere sweater.
“We are committed to putting our planet and quality first while curating a unique collection with a New York sensibility,” Kessler added.
Shoppers in New York City will get the first taste of AE77. The brand debuted with its first store in SoHo, designed by Stefan Beckman Studio, and a second store will open by year end. An e-commerce site will launch on Oct. 15.
Executives teased the new concept in the company’s second-quarter earnings call earlier this month, while also painting a confident future for American Eagle’s (AE) denim business. “AE’s position as the denim destination could not be stronger. Our jean collections continue to deliver great results across genders. We believe the current trends and shifts in silhouette will be a tremendous win for the AE business,” said Jennifer Foyle, president – executive creative director, AE and Aerie. The women’s business saw strength in bottoms across both fashion and comfortable categories, while the men’s business was focused on outfitting, with AE the No. 1 jeans brand within its teen demographic.
With its higher price point and emphasis on enduring design, AE77 offers an opportunity for American Eagle to expand its consumer base. In an interview with Ad Age, Kessler said AE77 targets post-college millennial and young Gen X shoppers in their mid-20s to mid-40s.
“AE77 is an exciting new opportunity for AEO Inc., which leverages our leadership in jeans, capitalizes on our strong innovation in style, fit, and fabrications, and incorporates our best sustainability practices,” said Jay Schottenstein, AEO Inc. CEO and executive chairman of the board. “I believe AE77 is a great addition to our portfolio of brands as we seek to inspire new customers and expand our offerings.”