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True Religion Sets Sights Beyond Denim

A new partnership aims to revive one of the Y2K era’s most memorable labels.

After emerging from bankruptcy in 2020, denim and lifestyle brand True Religion has undergone internal restructuring and a consumer-facing rebrand. Now, the company has a new licensing agreement with Concept One Accessories and Capelli/Ballet, divisions of GMA Group. The duo will distribute True Religion’s men’s, women’s and children’s cold weather accessories, fashion headwear, and jewelry, as well as women’s handbags, small leather goods, and hair accessories.

Launching in August, the collection will reference the motifs that made True Religion famous, from horseshoe stitching to Buddha logos. Creative director Zihaad Wells will continue to lead design.

“This partnership marks an important milestone in True Religion’s resurgence and we look forward to a very successful relationship,” True Religion CEO Michael Buckley said. Concept One is the licensing partner for Aeropostale, C&C California, Brooks Brothers and Fubu, while Capelli New York designs and manufactures footwear, accessories and jewelry.

The agreement is Concept One’s most extensive brand license engagements to date, “and represents our new go to market strategy that we will be adopting as we approach new brands and licenses,” president and CEO Sam Hafif said. The company has generated more than $1.2 billion in retail sales across 12 categories, with European and North American retail chains, he added. “

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With True Religion we see an opportunity to drive $50 million to $75 million in retail sales,” he said. “We are very excited about this partnership, and the power of the True Religion brand.”

True Religion executive vice president of wholesale and licensing Paul Rosengard said the strategic partnership “builds on our commitment to elevate and nurture the True Religion customer experience, affording all genders to enjoy our brand across more categories.”

While the company emerged from 2020 with a “healthy balance sheet,” according to CEO Buckley, store closures during the pandemic saw revenue fall by 80 percent before True Religion filed a Chapter 11 petition. Many denim brands struggled during the height of lockdown. In recent months, the label has been leaning on collaborations and collections with pop-culture icons to reinvigorate interest. True Religion tapped luxury streetwear giant Supreme last year for a ‘00s-inspired line featuring baggy denim cargo jeans, denim jackets, hoodies and beanies and released a capsule collection with rapper 2 Chainz’ ten years after he dropped the “T.R.U. REALigion” mixtape.

Longtime fan Chief Keef, who released “True Religion Fein” back in 20012, helped the brand celebrate its 20-year anniversary earlier this month. “I actually wore head-to-toe True Religion to my first show and when this opportunity came about, I jumped on it,” the rapper said. On May 5, the duo collaborated on a range including jeans, jackets, sweat sets and accessories in blue and black denim as well as pink and blue.