Jazzed About Jeans

Denim sales have been on the rise in 2021 and 2022, with individual companies at all price points reporting jumps in sales in the category. That growth is likely to last, analysts say. Research and Markets, for example, estimates that the denim jeans market worldwide will reach $76.1 billion by 2026, up 32.8% from $57.3 billion in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate of 4.84%.

Not surprisingly, denim brands are in demand within the licensing business, with many participating in inbound and outbound traditional licensing deals, collaborative initiatives, and/or expanded distribution arrangements for entry into new retail channels. Here is a sampling of such agreements, crossing all price points, announced since the beginning of the year:

  • Buffalo David Bitton, a denim brand owned by licensor Iconix International and produced by licensee Centric Brands, joined Levi’s SilverTab as the latest labels highlighted in Kohl’s new denim destination for the back-to-school season. Among the others included are licensed varieties such as Draper James RSVP and LC Lauren Conrad. The section, in 600 stores, is positioned next to the Kohl’s Sephora shops and will feature a number of cuts and styles.
  • Levi’s is returning to three of its previous collaboration partners for new limited editions this summer and fall. The initiatives include a second collection with Denim Tears, the label of designer Tremaine Emory, for an assortment of indigo-died white denim pieces; Danish label Ganni, for a collection of eco-friendly denim; and tennis player Naomi Osaka for a second capsule, this one including five pieces described as “playful.”
  • Lenny, a marketer of reconstructed denim, paired with celebrity stylist Britt Theodora for a collection of custom upcycled denim jeans, as well as t-shirts. The limited collection may lead to a more long-term partnership between the two. The intent is for the collection to include 200 to 300 custom items.
  • In the realm of outbound licensing, denim brand True Religion signed Amiee Lynn for a line of women’s belts, starting with 16 styles. Less than a month earlier, True Religion closed a deal with GMA Group, yielding a line of accessories and apparel through GMA’s Concept One Accessories, Capelli New York, and Ballet Jewels brands.
  • Bagatelle International partnered with Kathy Ireland for a denim collection, including stretch, coated, novelty, and printed styles, along with dresses and outerwear. The last category is set to debut this fall and the others in spring of next year. The line is designed for department stores, with exclusive styles offered on HSN.
  • In an international example, South African retailer The Fix paired with Anele Zondo, known in that country as an actress and TV presenter, for a fashion-forward collection of denim jeans, corsets, and sets featuring attributes such as cut-outs.
  • One Jeanswear Group secured the rights from footwear brand Sam Edelman to produce premium denim for the latter’s Sam Edelman and Circus NY labels. The latter is for a younger consumer. The agreement also includes a variety of other apparel categories.

In addition to denim fitting into consumers’ increasingly casual lifestyle, whether at work or at play, the industry has appealed to shoppers with new fits that are comfortable on all body types; styles that incorporate features such as washes, distressing, colors, appliqués, patterns, cut-outs, and vintage looks; and increasingly eco-friendly manufacturing practices.

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