Business Week: Rock & Republic and Recession Jeans

by Jaime on November 1, 2009

Rock & Republic founder Michael Ball was featured in the New Entrepreneur section of Business Week, talking about his new line, Recession Denim, and the price drop in retail cost of Rock & Republic.

I thought this article was a really interesting look at the world of denim sales and how to make it work. Read some of it below, and catch the rest here.

Last November, right around the time when the economy took a nose-dove, I spoke with Rock & Republic founder Michael Ball who had made a name and a fortune selling his elaborately expensive jeans. At its high-point (just before the economy tanked), the luxury denim category appeared to follow the inflated housing market, what with people willing to spend $300-plus in order to carry the cachet that these fancy blue-jeans were supposed to confer on the wearer. In the fall of 2008, market researcher NPD Group reported that luxury denim had become an $11 billion industry in the U.S. and one that had grown enviably — 5% to 7% a year. Ball had built a $300 million brand empire based on his designer jeans before expanding his product line to include cosmetics, accessories, and shoes that were sold in 86 countries.
When the stock market crashed and the economy skidded to a halt however, people began to think twice about paying the kind of money for a pair of jeans that they would for a fine bottle of wine. Ball noted that during the first half of 2008, Rock & Republic’s sales had spiked 14% only to fall flat during the second half. His ambitious plans (which included boutique hotels) were placed on hold and he said that he was not going to price his jeans above $280. “The top-tier has fallen off,” he said, “there is no point in sitting there.”
Fast forward to a year later — Ball who is known as much for his brash personality and marketing finesse as he is for his expensive jeans was now pushing the top-tier down even further. In a nod to affordable luxury Ball released a new line of denim called appropriately enough: Recession Jeans. Priced at $128 to $132, the new iteration of Rock & Republic cost less than half the price of Ball’s famous $300 designer duds.

They also hint at a future possibility: Rock & Republic denim… at Target! I’d be willing to try that out, how about you?


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