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Stretch Denim, Humor-Driven Marketing Spell Success for This DTC Brand

Men’s stretch jeans served up with a healthy dose of bro humor is a business model that has the almost three-year-old direct-to-consumer brand The Perfect Jean laughing all the way to the bank.

Launched in January 2020 by business partners Zack Arnold and Ovadia Labaton, the online-only New York-based brand has grown its revenue from about $1.8 million the first year to an estimated $15 million in 2022. It now sells about 20,000-30,000 pairs of jeans a month from its wry webshop that features slogans such as“F#%k Your Khakis” and “Stretches So Your Nuts Ain’t Crushed.”

The company’s mission statement is “to find a reasonably-priced stretch jean that we could comfortably wear all-day every f#!king day–whether working at the office, lounging on the couch, watching TV, busting olleys in a skate park, salsa dancing, squatting at the gym, squatting on the toilet, doing yoga poses, dunking a basketball like Bron Bron, sprinting full speed to the bar to grab a beer then getting too wasted and balling out Coyote Ugly style, etc.”

The brand name is also somewhat tongue-in-cheek. “It’s a combination of a satirical comment on lifestyle brands while simultaneously being aspirational,” Arnold told Rivet. “The humor component of it was certainly part of the name. We were never going to take ourselves too seriously. But simultaneously, we wanted to eventually develop products that applied to all men. Comfort was a very important part of it, being like a perfect item of clothing. It’s [part] a joke [and] part truth.”

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Despite their obvious love of jest, Arnold, whose family owns Six Lincoln, an apparel manufacturer and a Kenneth Cole licensee, and Labaton take the business side of their venture seriously.

Over the years they have expanded its assortment from two jeans fits—skinny and slim—to six and added tees, hoodies and shorts. The jeans’ retail prices range from $80-$90. A comfort stretch cotton fabric with 2.5 percent spandex milled and sewn in Bangladesh in LEED-certified facilities remains the fabric of choice for the brand’s core product.

However, this year The Perfect Jean added oxymoronically sounding “rigid stretch” jeans that are 98 percent cotton and 2 percent spandex versus the brand’s extant cotton-poly blend. This new fabric has the look and hand feel of rigid denim but stretches. In addition, it will launch a khaki-inspired “Tan Pants” collection and about eight other pants variations.

“We intend to do a bit more in terms of fun, small drops as we expand because our customers asked for it and I love it,” Arnold said.

The pair has also struck gold by adding inclusive sizing since the launch. Inseams run from 26 to 38 and waists are 26 to 50. “It’s really difficult [for larger men] especially when you go into the big and tall space,” Arnold said. “There are so few players like that in retail. There’s a big void there, which we’re definitely addressing.”

He estimates that 20 percent of The Perfect Jean’s orders are waist size 40 or over and says that about 45 percent of the brand’s total sales come from repeat customers.

The brand’s audience is targeted exclusively through ads on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. The average age is 34-35 but the range runs “from 12 to 98,” Arnold said. He also noted that brand fans include fashion-conscious men to workers who appreciate the stretch denim’s ease of movement.

The brand’s top styles are slim followed in a close second by athletic fit in Knight (dark blue) and Bandit (black) washes.

The Perfect Jean runs a tight ship. Arnold, Labaton, a designer and a customer service person are the only full-time employees at present while the rest of the work, from warehousing to social media posting, is outsourced. “We operate it very lean for the size business that it has become,” Arnold said.

“We use a 3PL for our warehousing, Masonhub, and they’ve done a very good job,” he added. “They have a warehouse in Pennsylvania and in California. We ship from both sides country [which] makes for a better customer experience.” Domestic orders generally take three or four days to be delivered but options for even faster service are being explored. Outside the U.S. product can be shipped to Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

Arnold said that a new data-focused program developed by the startup Singuli has been especially effective in inventory control and analysis. “With all those waist sizes and inseams and washes, it’s a lot of SKUs, so there’s almost no way to even look at it manually,” he said, adding that “we’re now shipping full containers” from Bangladesh.

As for its goals for the future, Arnold said, “I think it’s to keep steadily growing the business, hopefully at the current clip that it’s currently growing. But if it doesn’t grow so fast, that’s okay with us. I’d love to say we’re going to take over the denim world in a minute, but that’s honestly not who we are. We’re in it to create a business that our customers are super happy with, that grows at a decent clip but that’s also on solid ground and very functional.”