Things are stirring at Californian denim brand Joe’s Jeans, which was acquired by Global Brands in February 2016. International expansion is underway, while a new Hollywood headquarters and concept store will soon be unveiled in LA. On the product front, the brand has teamed up with model Taylor Hill to create a collection due to hit stores across the US and online at the end of May 2017, followed by a second drop in August. We sat down with brand founder Joe Dahan and CEO Suzy Biszantz ahead of the collab launch party in London last week to discuss the moves driving the brand forward.
SI: How did the collab with Taylor Hill come about?
Joe Dahan: I’ve admired Taylor Hill’s style and character for some time on Instagram– she’s so casual, relaxed and effortlessly cool. Her style is a perfect match for us as a laid-back Californian denim brand with a rebel rock’n’roll edge. Though you might not describe her dress sense as rebel-like, she’s moving in that direction so the timing felt right to start something with her now.
Tell us about the collection and your favorites within it.
Dahan: Taylor is very particular about her own style, and it was important let that shine through properly. The result of the collab is casual but with sophistication, with a helping of rock’n’roll. I particularly love the hybrid denim looks that mix rugged abrasions and precious pearl embellishments. The denim and mesh pieces worked really well, too – fishnet and denim make such a good pairing! You’ll see the mesh peeking through the abrasion holes. We like mixing things that seem like they shouldn’t go together; often they turn into something interesting.
What’s the latest in terms of fit and fabric at Joe’s?
Dahan: The biggest thing for us right now is to achieve authentic-looking denim with stretch and this is of course a challenge across the whole market. Buyers love the idea of authentic-looking denim but they don’t like the rigid feel, nor do consumers. Discovering how to get rigid-looking but soft and comfortable jeans is the aim – once we manage that, we’ll use the resulting fabric everywhere. We always make sure to work with mills that have green credentials. A lot of them work sustainably these days but we feel that Candiani is a step ahead. They’re super innovative and they really care about the environment. As for fits, we’ve just started showing buyers a new “skinny slim.” It’s slimmer than a straight leg – essentially like a skinny but with ease everywhere. It’s sexy but casual.
Which are your most important markets and what territories will you expand into next?
Suzy Biszantz: Joe’s is very much an LA brand, with a strong position on the west coast. So far, 90% of our business has been confined to the US, so international expansion provides us with an opportunity to grow. As we’re now re-launching the brand, we’ve been thinking carefully about how we’ll go about doing this in the right way, communicating what Joe’s is all about and showing what we do creatively. We’ve had continued pockets of distribution in countries including Russia and Switzerland, working with partners that have continued pushing the brand into premium distribution. We’re also entering the Middle East for fall. Going forward, we’d like to establish better representation in fashion capitals such as Paris and London. We’ve partnered with a new London-based distributor called Zone 2. Ideally we’d love a store in London, too – but one step at a time!
Speaking of stores, is there any news on that front?
Biszantz: Wholesale is the predominant part of our distribution – we sell at Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus – but we have fourteen stores in the US, and we’re about to open a new space in LA, designed by Joe and US architect firm Gensler, who’re also behind our new LA headquarters.
Can you give us a hint about what to expect of the new store – in terms of general feel and design?
Dahan: It’s designed to feel welcoming – as if you’ve stepped into someone’s home. Customers will be invited in to hang out, play some music or read a book… There will be a fridge for customers to help themselves to a drink. It’ll be a space for anyone to come in and chill out. Design-wise, think classic Parisian mixed with modernity – a modernized take on old world.
What about the new Hollywood headquarters you’re about to move into?
Dahan: The location is amazing – with downtown views on one side and the Hollywood Hills on the other. It’ll help us highlight who we really are – a real LA brand with the rock’n’roll edge you experience on the streets in the area. We’ll be able to walk out of our offices and immerse ourselves in that energy. The space will have the same feel as the store, designed to be homely and welcoming. It’ll incorporate a lab space open to everyone, inviting people to discover how we work creatively and make denim using new technologies and techniques. In the past, the market was so closed and secretive. The attitude was: ‘I’m going to work in my corner and show you the results once I’m done’. The world has changed so drastically – today, the more you share the more innovation thrives.