Beating the Denim Blues
Q&A with denim
NYDJ surges ahead
Why Pur is premium
Not Your Daughter’s Jeans
continues to thrive in a
down denim market
B Y C AROL A. C ROTTA
How do you make the best of times out of the worst of times?
Lots of denim manufacturers would like to ask that question of Lisa
Rudes-Sandel and her father, George Rudes, president and CEO, respec-
tively, of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, more familiarly known as NYDJ.
“A guy from Gerber called me today and said, ‘George, you are the
only guy in town who is busy,’” says Rudes. It’s a good thing, since Rudes,
who once ran St. Germain jeans, came out of a pleasant Boca retirement in
2003 at his children’s behest to help launch NYDJ. “This is more fun than
Florida,” George Rudes says. “It’s better than hitting golf balls.”
As its name indicates, Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, unlike most of the top
contemporary denim names, does not target slim-hipped, flat-stomached,
bone-thin tweens, teens and twenty-somethings. It targets instead their
child-bearing, gravity-victim mothers, who, like their daughters, enjoy a
fine-fitting pair of jeans when they can find them, which isn’t often.
Using its patented Tummy Tuck technology of criss-cross front-panel
design, NYDJ jeans strive to slim the lower abdomen, shape the hips and
lift the often-problematic bottom, all in complete comfort, and all in denim.
The internal supports are so effective, the company claims, that women something right. Rudes is certain he knows why: “because we recognized the for-
should go for a size smaller than their usual size. gotten woman, the woman over 40 who had been neglected by the entire fashion
The strategy and the technology seem to be working. What tickles industry all over the world.”
Rudes currently is the latest sales analyses provided by the Port Washing- That forgotten woman was Rudes-Sandel herself, who, with sister Leslie, NYDJ
ton, N.Y.–based NPD Group, a retail tracking service. It shows that NYDJ vice president, came up with the concept after constant frustration on the jeans front.
ranks second, just behind Seven for All Mankind, among denim manufac- Despite her workout ethic, “I’ve never had a flat tummy,” she admits. “And I didn’t
turers in total dollar volume for April 2008—a 75 percent increase in sales want to show my underwear every time I bent over.” Rudes himself puts it another
over April 2007. For the 12-month period from April 2007 to April 2008, way: “Our name came from the fact you had to wear jeans so low you needed a
NYDJ posted a 25.8 percent increase in sales, achieving an impressive bikini wax.”
fourth place in total dollar volume behind Seven For All Mankind, Citizens The hottest jeans in town demanded a perfect body, but there are many more
of Humanity and Levi’s. imperfect bodies who still wanted a pair of jeans. There was also the humiliation fac-
With the economic tide flowing the other way, clearly NYDJ is doing tor—the very real issue of embarrassing yourself trying to fit into jeans designed for
Denim Special Section sponsored by Calik
JULY 2008 CALIFORNIA APPAREL NEWS / DENIM 3
“We struck that nerve. We have close to 90,000 letters saying, ‘You are a blessing.
I finally feel comfortable.’”— GEORGE RUDES, CEO, NOT YOUR DAUGHTER’S JEANS
a very young woman’s body type. What Rudes-Sandel wanted was a pair of
jeans specifically designed not for a girl, or a girl wanna-be, but a woman,
without that pair of jeans looking like they could fit the local plumber. The
NYDJ mantra would be fit, not necessarily fashion-of-the-minute. Tummy
Tuck provided the answer.
Nordstrom, the sophisticated misses capital of retail America, was a per-
fect fit for NYDJ, and a big part of its success story. “Not Your Daughter’s
Jeans has been a great partner for Nordstrom,” says Nancy Christensen,
corporate merchandise manager of Studio 121, Narrative, petites, and coats
and dresses for Nordstrom Inc. “They are filling a niche with an innovative
product that nobody else currently offers. The company really understands
their customer—what she wants—and is serving her with great-fitting
NYDJ jeans retail from $88 to $138 depending on embellishments. While
fit is the number-one concern, “We don’t shy away from offering trend or
fashion for our customer,” Rudes-Sandel says. “She’s just a bit missier”—
which means that fashion elements such as colors, treatments and textures
are kept on the calmer side. The following is large, and loyal.
NYDJ, with misses, petite and large-size collections of high-quality
product encompassing some 350 styles, is Nordstrom’s number-one online
seller. “We struck that nerve,” Rudes says. “We have close to 90,000 let-
ters saying, “‘You are a blessing. I finally feel comfortable.’” A comfortable
misses customer is one who will return again and again, and doesn’t have
to have the money to fill her closet.
NYDJ’s success is a harbinger of the depth of the mature jeans market.
Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for The NPD Group, finds that “today
we are seeing a whole new market finally being addressed. Moms are find-
ing that some jeans brands are addressing their needs. Today, women of
size, age and dimension are able to chase their dream of finding the perfect
pair, and there is little sign of it slowing down.” clean, very well-made trouser pant with quality and comfort and styling, nothing
And NYDJ is poised to take advantage of its denim success and name recognition. weird,” she says.
“We have a great jeans product,” says Rudes-Sandel, “so we are venturing out and While the denim is domestically produced, the slacks line comes from offshore, in
tapping into some new fabrications and categories.” fabrications including dry clean–preferred rayons and poly-rayons. The trousers will
For Fall 2008, NYDJ is launching a line of Tummy Tuck slacks—“a trouser look,” retail for just under $100. Sales, Rudes-Sandel reports, have been brisk. “We think
Rudes-Sandel explains, “in solids and twill, tweedy weaving, pinstripes, very beautiful it may be even bigger than denim,” she says. “The buyers say they can’t wait to get
with a sweater or blouse,” all with the same Tummy Tuck technology that has been them fast enough. Not many have tapped into this category. Nordstrom feels it is
NYDJ’s calling card. These are meant to be practical foundation pieces, “just a nice, going to be so big, and petites think this will be a blowout for them.”
Back on the denim front, NYDJ will bring out maternity and post-partum lines
later in the year and is working on jackets and tops, “all having to do with making a
woman look and feel younger and slimmer,” Rudes-Sandel says. “Anything we can
put our hands on to do, we will do.”
NYDJ also continues to make a name for itself in philanthropic circles.
For the past several years, the company, through Nordstrom, has sponsored
a month-long October event in which it donates to the Susan G. Komen
for the Cure breast cancer research foundation $1 every time a woman just
tries on a pair of Tummy Tuck jeans. At the end of October 2007, NYDJ cut
a check for $27,000. Now, NYDJ has committed to do the same for a solid
year, May 2008 through May 2009, with a cap of $500,000.
“The truth is, I’m a woman and I have a sister and a mother and a niece,
and the majority of our staff here is women,” says Rudes-Sandel. “It one of
the leading causes of death among women, and something I fear having to
deal with. We thought it was a good cause to stand behind.”
The Komen foundation is grateful. “Partners such as Not Your Daugh-
ter’s Jeans are an integral part of our mission of helping us reach women
with life-saving breast health messages and raising funds that support
breast cancer research and community health programs,” says Katrina
McGhee, vice president of marketing at Komen. “Without the funds raised
from partners like Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, Komen could not fund the
amount of work it does.”
NYDJ also donates product to various charities and needs, including
most recently 10,000 pairs of jeans to Iowa flood victims through the
nonprofit charity Crowded Closet, and 20,000 pairs to the Union Rescue
With sales volume approaching $100 million annually, some 2 mil-
lion jeans going to 20 countries, and the whole new frontier of trousers
opening up this coming year, NYDJ can honestly report that the outlook is
a ray of sunshine amid the darkening skies. “This,” says Rudes, “has been
a fabulous ride.” D
4 CALIFORNIA APPAREL NEWS / DENIM JULY 2008
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BY DENA SMOLEK
Touted as a new approach to the world of With the recent launch of her line, the FIDM
denim, Pur Premium Denim is the brainchild and Otis/Parsons alum is focused on translating
of designer Hae Yong. An industry veteran her knowledge of the female form into not-so-basic
with more than 20 years in the denim mar- jeans, skirts, trench coats and other denim fash-
ket, Yong has worked with Lucky Brand, ion pieces. Dubbed a couturier of denim by her
James Perse, Bongo, Blue Cult, Pepe Jeans, admirers, Yong’s vast experience, coupled with her
Von Dutch Premium, Antik Denim, Genetic tailoring and meticulous attention to detail, set her
apart from other denim denizens. She produces her
Denim and People’s Liberation Men’s col-
privately owned label in the denim capital of Los
lection, among others. With such impressive
knowledge of the premium-denim market, Yong currently designs about 30 styles per
one wonders why a designer might choose season. Top sellers from the debut (Spring ’08) col-
to launch a new label in such an oversatu- lection are the “Bardot” and “Scarlette” jeans in a
rated marketplace, where premium denim slim boot cut, as well as the “Denim Fleece” jeans
and retail in general are struggling. and “Fergie Suspender Trouser.” Wholesale prices
“Over-saturation and poor product are range from $90 to $125 for pants and go up to $220
partially responsible for the decline of the pre- for fashion pieces. Retail prices are $200 to $275
mium-denim market,” says the designer. “My for pants and under $500 for fashion items. Top
product speaks for itself—it has to be worn to retailers include Jeany in Santa Monica, Calif.; Blues
be truly appreciated. What nature didn’t give Jean Bar in San Francisco; and H Lorenzo in Los
you, Pur can.”
CAN: What are the biggest challenges that
you face as an emerging brand in the premi-
HY: The state of our economy would be
the greatest challenge. However, I have seen
this “cycle” three times already. The nice thing
about cycle is that what goes down also comes
back, so I have faith. In this climate, the mar-
ket will correct and weed out what isn’t good. design for Pur, I have to say, comes more from my
If you maintain the purity of your line, quality needs and desire [than from] my past experience.
and design, the consumers will support you. The pieces I have made are what I wanted and
couldn’t find—fit and quality being some of the big-
CAN: What made you decide to launch gest issues for me. Although, my experience has
your own line? helped me design and execute some really intricate
HY: It was time. The market was starting pieces that few people dare do, for it is really dif-
to look flat, and I couldn’t buy anything for ficult and costly in time.
over a year. I was always a loyal consumer of
premium jeans, and it CAN: What are you work-
got really frustrating ing on for Spring ’09?
shopping and getting HY: I am expanding my
nothing. I now own color denims, along with
more shoes and bags more-aggressive washes. I
than I know what am also launching my knit
to do with—at least line, with cashmere and
I have some killer super-lightweight cotton
shoes for my jeans! jersey, but with really fitted
CAN: How ha s
your previous design CAN: Do you have any
experience influ- plans to introduce organic
enced the line? denim into the collection?
HY: Influence in HY: Absolutely! I will
probably start with the men’s
For more information, visit
6 CALIFORNIA APPAREL NEWS / DENIM JULY 2008
Meeting the trials
of the denim
F B Y C HRISTIAN M. C HENSVOLD
Founded in 1959, Olah Inc. has seen its share of cycles in the denim market. But what’s different
about the current one is how high the market spiked and how hard the star is falling.
But consider it a call to rise to the challenge, says Andrew Olah, owner of the New York–based denim
supplier and consultancy. Because, in order to weather this downturn, he says, you’ll need to be the best
at what you do—whether that’s coming up with brilliant designs to sell at premium or producing your
denim line more efficiently and with excellent quality control.
California Apparel News spoke with Olah about the boom times, like when he brokered $80 million
worth of denim and got two calls per week from new customers, as well as about today’s more “rational”
times. Olah also shares his thoughts about the current state of the denim industry in its many facets.
CAN: Tell us about Olah Inc.
AO: The company was started by my dad, and next
year will be our 50th anniversary. I joined in 1973.
We were originally a Canadian company but are now
based in New York with an office in Los Angeles.
I fell in love with the jeans industry. One of my early
customers was Levi’s, and I cherished the opportunity
to have been a vendor to them.
CAN: What do you do?
AO: We were originally a fabric agency for tex-
CAN: How many companies are there like yours?
AO: The basic way people sell textiles hasn’t really
changed. What has changed is that companies have
their own offices. So somebody works out of his home
and represents one company. From that perspective,
every supplier is a competitor. But when you consider
all the different things we do, I don’t think there’s any-
body [else doing that]. That’s probably because nobody’s
stupid enough to do it.
It’s very expensive to run a group of 13 people,
the nature of the industry. And this particular spike was
a bit larger and more forceful than the others because it
also involved not just consumer demand but a shift in
how people wear jeans.
The reason the spike went so high is more people
began wearing jeans to clubs, restaurants and work—a
completely different approach to jeans. It was a huge
social change. Those people now are like, “What’s next?”
And the industry hasn’t been able to give them the same
excitement as when premium jeans first came out.
CAN: When did the cycle peak?
AO: We knew there was an issue in 2006. Every-
body who has been in this industry for a long time
knew it couldn’t last.
CAN: So where are we now in summer 2008?
AO: I think we’re in a period of difficult times with
the size of market that has been anticipated. When
business booms, there are a lot of new entrants, and
if they don’t have sustainable strategies, they suffer the
most. Levi’s or VF Corp. [owners of Lee and Wrangler]
probably won’t suffer at all.
tile mills around the world. We’ve evolved, and now which is an enormous amount of overhead. That’s a lot CAN: So you have fewer orders today?
we’re a marketing company—a product-development for a fabric-selling company. The reason we do it is that AO: Everybody in the business, except maybe Tar-
company—we sell fabrics, sponsor a trade show called we hire people who are really competent, who have get, has fewer orders than they did two years ago.
Kingpins and do consulting. The main source of rev- degrees in textiles or who can engineer a factory.
enue is the agency, which has two sources of revenue: Our managing director in L.A. has spent nine years CAN: As a percentage, how much has it fallen off?
fabric and finished garments. running laundries, so if a customer has a problem with AO: It has dropped an amount that I would call
a fabric related to washing, we can solve it instanta- unfortunately expected. $80 million was a spike we
CAN: Who are your customers? neously. probably didn’t deserve, so it has gone back to the
AO: We operate in two zones: the premium and rational level where it used to be.
upper retail. So we do business with Banana Republic, CAN: What’s the denim market like right now? I think 500 million pairs of jeans are consumed per
Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle, but also AO: It’s in another pattern of maturity. One of the year, and I’m sure that number will go up each year by
Adriano Goldschmied, Paige Premium Denim, Citizens things that has happened to the denim industry histori- 2 to 5 percent. I don’t think anything has changed. The
of Humanity, Gold Sign and Seven For All Mankind. cally is that it has massive spikes up and down. It’s just people that spiked most were the new entrants. Seven
8 CALIFORNIA APPAREL NEWS / DENIM JULY 2008
Apparel News Group
Sixty-four years of news,
ALISON A. NIEDER
N. JAYNE SEWARD
For All Mankind came from zero five years ago. Senior Editor
Right now we’re in the real jeans business, with a stable DEBORAH BELGUM
demand—the demand we had before the boom. ROBERT MCALLISTER
CAN: What’s the next fashion trend as far as denim Manufacturing Editor
goes? Associate Editor
AO: People are talking about vintage washes right now, Editorial Manager
especially in Europe. Not ruined, not with holes, but vin- JOHN IRWIN
tage-looking. And in women’s, which is 70 percent of the KRISTINHA ANDING
market, the trend is toward new fibers, such as Pima cot- Web Editor
ton, or different kinds of stretch fiber. Webmaster
CAN: How has the green trend impacted denim? CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD
AO: I worked for a Portuguese textile company that was JAMIE SHARPE
the first to make organic shirts for Patagonia, so I’ve been JOSELLE YOKOKAWA
involved with organic since 1995. I teach a textile develop- Contributing Photographers
ment course at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and JOHN ECKMIER
we have this conversation every semester. I always answer RICHARD KNAPP
the question the same way: “If you would like to be envi-
Plush Premium Denim/Evolushion III
ronmentally friendly, never buy a new thing again. There’s JESSICA SILVERSTEIN
Creative Marketing Director Debuting Spring ’09 collections
already enough jeans, furniture and cars—just stop buy- LOUISE DAMBERG
Director of Sales and Marketing
TERRY MARTINEZ @ Project, August ’08
So let’s not talk about how we’re going to create new National Advertising Manager
things that customers don’t need—which is what all con-
@ Coterie, September ’08
sumer products are—and say they’re environmentally
friendly. Sales Assistants
CAN: So do you feel “bad faith” about your business Marketing Assistant
because you’re providing new jeans? Classified Account Executives
ZENNY R. KATIGBAK
AO: Not at all. Whatever consumer industry you’re in, JEFFERY YOUNGER
we all make stuff that nobody needs. Do we feel bad that Classified Accounting
MARILOU DELA CRUZ
people enjoy what we do? No, I think it’s a great feeling. But Service Directory
practically speaking, as a citizen of the planet, I don’t have a JUNE ESPINO
problem saying nobody needs anything we make. KENDALL IN
Digital Color Production
CAN: Tell us about your consultancy work. Editorial Designer
AO: We work for Bayer Agroscience in the develop- Production Artists
ment of their product called FiberMax, a fine-quality cotton RANDY DUNBAR
JOHN FREEMAN FISH
that’s grown in Texas, and we’re trying to make people RUSSELL LEE
aware of this brand. ZUKE OSHIRO
We also work with a company in Morocco called Atlantic JIM PATEL
that’s the largest manufacturing company in all of Morocco, Credit Manager
making 8 million jeans and 5 million yards of denim each Accounting Clerk
year. They’re a great company, selling to Diesel and Miss Mailroom Coordinator
Sixty, and we’re helping them with the U.S. market. EFREN AGUIRRE
CAN: What do you think of the jeans at Target? Office Manager
AO: They’re fantastic. They’ve achieved reasonable DIANNE RINI
quality at a fair price. General Manager
MnM Publishing Corp.:
CAN: What’s on the horizon for the denim industry? Co-CEOs
AO: There are a lot of textile mills out there that were built CARL WERNICKE
during the boom. The question for all of us over the next few Publisher/Chairman/CEO
years is what this overcapacity of denim and apparel manu- MARTIN WERNICKE
A denim line crafted exclusively for women
facturing is going to mean for the industry. It’s going to be
size 10 and abov e, SVOBOD A compliments
great for the consumer, because you have an oversupply. MnM PUBLISHING CORP.
I don’t want to say we’re in a bad time, because I think APPAREL NEWS GROUP curves and underscores personality with
we’re in a normal time, but I do think there’s an oversup- California Apparel News smart detailing, easy comfort, and
ply. There’s more production than needed. Jr.
sophisticate – yet fun – styling.
CAN: Who will survive? California Market Center
110 E. Ninth St., Suite A777
AO: The people who are the best at what they do. Los Angeles, CA 90079-1777
This business is always about the fork between logistics 623-5707
and fashion. There’s nothing in the middle. By logistics, I Classified Advertising Fax (213)
mean making whatever someone wants in a huge quantity, www.apparelnews.net
quickly, with great quality, and delivering on time, and PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.
doing that repeatedly.
Those are the two roads, so pick a road. D
JULY 2008 CALIFORNIA APPAREL NEWS / DENIM 9
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