How do you tempt consumers to buy more of something they already own a lot of? That’s the question Atlanta-based Ponce Denim Company owner Farshad Arshid has faced head on.
“Really, it’s the universal garment on the planet right now—it’s wearable in a work environment, going out—especially over the last 20 years. There’s much more of an acceptance of denim in the work place. It’s gone away from casual Friday. You can wear it any way, any time, any place,” he explained.
Ponce is a departure from Arshid’s other ventures, including running two G-Star Q stores in Atlanta and Houston. For Ponce, Arshid went with creating a strong focus by making the store “single-item.” He said, “We don’t sell anything that’s not denim, and we don’t sell anything that’s not jeans. We don’t even sell denim jackets, denim shirts, nothing. It’s literally just a jean shop.”
He also went with eliminating the economic barrier to entry, and the accompanying stuffiness. “We think that, to a certain extent, denim has somewhat become a bit pretentious at times, like if it’s not this much, or this price, or this way or that way, it’s not worth it – and that’s simply not true,” he said.
“There’s great denim at sixty to eighty dollars, and there’s fantastic denim at four hundred dollars—but there’s also shitty denim at three to four hundred dollars. So this whole, ‘if you pay a lot for it, it’s automatically a great product’ is not always true,” he continued.
With this in mind, Arshid and his team of buyers select from a broad range of brands and price points. “We wanted to [offer it all], from the lowest of the price points to the highest, exclusive and everything in between. We wanted to have from the slimmest and skinny fits, to the biggest, tallest, and widest fit. The two things I really wanted to avoid was people walking in saying, ‘They didn’t have any I could afford,’ or, ‘They didn’t have anything that fit me’—for men and women.”
No price point went ignored in the store’s inventory curation, Arshid said, making sure iconic brands were represented.
“We went into each price area, and sought the best brands within each range. We brought in Unbranded, which starts at about $68 and up. We brought in Cheap Monday, which starts at about $75, and allows us to have [an] entry level. We’re also going to bring some of the Levi’s that are a little lower [in price] than Made & Crafted and Levi’s Vintage (which is in stock), so we can hit that $60 to $100 mark. You cannot run a denim store, and not carry Levi’s—it’s just insane [not to.] They are the godfather of denim, and the most important brand on the planet and will always remain that way,” Arshid said.
Arshid elucidates on Ponce’s selections, which also span the globe: “The other thing is that we wanted to highlight different, regional denim. We wanted to have American denim, to make sure we represented, and there are tons—like Baldwin, and Raleigh. We wanted hit some European brands—G-Star (Dutch), Cheap Monday (Sweden), or Nudie (Dutch). Right now, in my humble opinion, the best denim is made out of Japan. That’s why we wanted to bring in brands like Edwin. We’re [also] bringing in Flat Head, and some other [Japanese] brands.”
Even the store’s “high-end comfortable” ambiance comes imported, creating a destination shopping appeal. “What we wanted the vibe to be was a (upscale) Parisian apartment, and we kept it simple. We did a herringbone wood floor, a stained steel rack system with marble – all the shelving is marble. We did a Louis XIV desk, and then we did a middle table that is basically a live edge table that was handmade and finished in Atlanta,” Arshid described.
He added, “We want you to feel comfortable here, whether you buy something or you’re not. You can come and be at ease, without any pressure or aggressive vibe. You can chill out for hours, and listen to music. Or, buy five pairs of jeans.”