How True Religion jeans got started
To build his brand, founder Jeff Lubell gave pairs of his True Religion jeans away.
So I got a job at a swimwear company, which was fitting because I was captain of my high school team. I ended up staying in the textiles industry for 25 years.
- Don't be afraid to approach powerful people.
When I decided to launch True Religion, I went to industry leaders like Mickey Drexler, who was then at the Gap, seeking backing. I couldn't find private money, but I eventually found a jeans manufacturer to help me get my brand started.
- Skip the prototype.
I had a concept to create a unique line of jeans with colored stitching and lower pockets. I designed a myriad of styles, and I produced about 14,000 pairs before I sold a piece. Usually you do it the other way around -- you make a sample line, go to market, get orders, and ship your production.
- Comp the sales staff.
I went to Fred Segal on Melrose and showed the jeans to a guy who was running the jeans bar. He hated them. I knew his boss, so I showed her the line, but she said, "I don't get it. I don't think my customer is going to get it."
It took me an hour to wear her down, but she finally took 24 pairs. A month went by, and I went back, and they'd only sold two pairs. I asked the sales guy if I could give him a pair free. He and the other workers came out to my truck and I gave them the jeans.
Four days later I went back and couldn't find my jeans. I asked where they were, and he said, "People would come in and ask, 'What are those that you're wearing? I want those.'" They sold out.
Secrets of my success
- Manufacture locally
- Protect your name
- Outsource everything