The panel was moderated by Kingpins Founder Andrew Olah with Thomas Stege Bojer, editor-in-chief at Denimhunters; Nick Coe, founding editor at Heddels; Tricia Carey, Lenzing director of global business development; and Amy Leverton, author of Denim Dudes.
The panel agreed that denim brands do not market their product as well as they could. Leverton pointed to Levi’s, a brand with which she consults, saying that though Levi’s has a talented design team and great product, they could be doing more to share it.
“It’s a big company, it’s a big corporation, and I think it’s really, really hard for a company that’s that big to be confident about their products and do cool stuff and directional stuff,” she said.
Carey pointed out that some of the marketing difficulties could be due to Levi’s position, “They’re one of the few denim brands that represent such a global position, and they’re everything from Denizen price point to Wellthread concept.”
Most Levi’s jeans are sold in America at low prices, so how do you market to both a farmer in Texas and a cool, young kid, Leverton questioned.
Yet, Leverton said she believes Levi’s could turn things around. “They are capable of being cooler and still maintaining a conversation with their less directional customers,” she said.
Leverton referenced the ’80s and ’90s, when Levi’s was hugely popular, while still being cutting-edge, using as an example the 1985 commercial in which model Nick Kamen strips off his clothes in a laundromat.
On the smaller end of the industry, Coe pointed to crowdfunded denim brands as another sector that does not tend to have strong marketing. He said that Heddels receives around five emails a week from people that are launching products, but the site turns away 95 percent of these brands.
Coe finds that the majority of these brands are not taking their branding very seriously and often are raising money without much investment in their product.
He said, “It’s not that crowdsourcing is a terrible way to go about it, but to say that you can take an idea and turn it into a brand overnight, there is so much more time that needs to go into a developing brand.”