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Why Offering a Wide Assortment of Denim Works for American Rag

A stalwart in denim retail for over 30 years, Los Angeles-based American Rag Cie utilizes a merchandising strategy that strays from the new norm.

While many retailers are scaling back their roster of brands, American Rag offers consumers a dense range of labels. From $99 Barney Cools jeans to Denham’s $749 “Made in Japan” 10-year anniversary jean, there is a brand, fit and price point to satisfy every customer that walks into its La Brea Avenue doors, or peruses its online store.

Men’s buyer Armand Sawyer shared that American Rag tries to avoid chasing trends, explaining that that approach “is the easiest way to miss out on the next great brand or designer.”

Rather than following trends, American Rag carefully selects merchandise and styles that reflect a mission to meet consumer needs. Its aim is to remain relevant to the contemporary shopper, but Sawyer explained that relevance isn’t necessarily synonymous with checking off all the trends.

Instead, the retailer has remained a tried-and-true source for denim by listening to the consumer, as well as introducing new brands and styles.

“[This] is something that we pride ourselves on,” Sawyer said. “As a company we believe that consumers are now looking for an experience when shopping as opposed to just products. They want to be entertained.”

In place of trends, when it comes to stocking new styles, American Rag looks to the consumer’s experience and feedback as guidance. According to Sawyer, American Rag’s shoppers have a strong appreciation of assortment, so in giving a wide selection of brands and styles, the store creates a sense of discovery.

It is also tuned into what’s selling. The store habitually follows its consistent best sellers to determine what their shoppers are looking for, allowing consumer-driven decisions.

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Sawyer cites cropped and wide leg fits, boxy silhouettes, workwear styles, and sherpa lined coats as the most important styles for the season.

“At the moment some of our best-selling brands are Needles, Comme des Garçons, AR321, Prospective Flow, Levi’s and Mother,” he added. “As far as our best-selling styles, those have been men’s skinny jeans, women’s high waist button fly, track pants, and printed short sleeve wovens.”

He also shared that consumers are currently interested in shopping vintage across denim, band tees, and slip dresses.

“We want to be a destination for our consumer. You can come to our space and see the best denim selection,” said Sawyer. “I believe it is this global way of thinking that has been our biggest success in meeting consumer needs.”