The premium denim brand sees growth through innovation, sustainability, digital and a campaign marking 20 years in business.
“Everyone has a memory of buying their first pair of ‘Sevens,’” suggested Suzanne Silverstein, president of the Seven For All Mankind premium denim brand.
Maybe it’s not as memorable as your first car or first kiss, but Silverstein sees slipping into that first pair of Sevens as a peak fashion moment that emotionally ties into who you were with at the time, or a particular stage of your life — and that’s the basis for the brand campaign launching today with the theme, “Remember Your First.”
The campaign celebrates the brand’s 20 years in business by featuring Carolyn Murphy, one of the models that represented the brand two decades ago as well as models Cato Van Ee, Arthur Gosse, Anais Mali, brand ambassadors, and customers who remain anonymous. They share stories about their first pair of “Sevens,” as the brand is commonly called.
For the team at Seven For All Mankind, “The campaign feels like a restart,” said Silverstein.
Silverstein, who rejoined Seven For All Mankind eight months ago after serving as president of the Parker contemporary brand and earlier served as Seven’s vice president of U.S. wholesale, is, in a sense, restarting and giving momentum to the brand, which years ago experienced some turbulence stemming from splits between management and founders and ownership changes.
The Silverstein agenda calls for fabric and fit innovations, growth online, making sustainability a priority, and extending the size range from 23 to 34. Among the innovations, the Jen7 by Seven For All Mankind secondary line for more mature customers, priced at about $100, is offering higher-rise styles with more room in the hips and an “Enhance Me” tummy panel for support.
To further mark its milestone year, Seven is reissuing its 080 Bootcut in a limited edition. The style was the jean that got the brand off the ground.
Spring 2020 is the first full collection by global creative director Simon Spurr, who joined Seven For All Mankind in January 2019. His career includes stints at Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Yves Saint Laurent, Gieves & Hawkes and Eidos. “Denim will always be at the brand’s core, but with the spring ’20 collection, we are entering a new era,” said Spurr. “Our goal is to continue breaking down the barriers between ready-to-wear and denim through innovation.”
The spring collection centers on Seven’s signature denim, which has been updated with light to medium washes, crisp whites and neutral colorways. Ninety percent of the business is in denim bottoms, though the collection offers suiting, outerwear, dresses and blouses. Officials declined to indicate the sales volume of Seven.
Knits are being “built out” with additional casual and dressier styles, and the denim is being enhanced with technical fabrics with “coating” for sheen and smoothness, wicking characteristics, and for weights suitable for wearing year-round.
The sustainability platform involves utilizing sustainable organic cotton, recyclable elastane, dyeing processes that are eco-friendly and recycled hardware. The platform launches in April.
Also, Seven For All Mankind’s original boot-cut jean in men’s and women’s is being revived in limited edition with sustainable properties. Sustainability is “table stakes but it’s time for it,” said Silverstein.
On the brick-and-mortar front, events for community groups, charities and other functions are being staged at the stores, quarterly or monthly depending on the location. Last December, the company hosted nine in-store holiday shopping events around the country with a portion of the proceeds donated to local charity partners, including Surfrider Foundation and the San Antonio Food Bank. The company operates a total of 57 stores and outlets around the U.S., ranging in size from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet.
“When an event is staged, a store typically doubles its average sales volume for the day. But it’s not just about the day of. It’s the long tail,” said Silverstein. “We’re building community and driving feet into the stores. We’re thinking of our retail stores as experiential hubs and are partnering to do events with key causes in markets, synergetic businesses and community groups.”
Eleven units opened last year and two, in Westport, Conn., and Vaughan Mills in Canada, are planned for this year. With mall traffic declining, “We had some foot traffic challenges last year,” Silverstein acknowledged. However, she said the company remains “opportunistic” in its approach to adding brick-and-mortar and that visual upgrades and a clienteling portal for store associates to access customer information via iPads are on the agenda.
“When the company was founded 20 years ago, it really changed the notion of when it was appropriate to wear denim,” said Silverstein. Like instead of just wearing jeans with sneakers or flip-flops, Seven For All Mankind denim was right for pumps and a black jacket. “Seven For All Mankind made denim appropriate for any occasion — work, play, evenings out. It was really the first in the premium denim category, with high-quality denim in new and unique fits.” The Seven jeans were originally around $160 and are currently in the $200-to-$250 range. Ten to 15 percent of the business is done digitally.
The brand was founded by Michael Glasser, Peter Koral, and Jerome Dahan in 2000 and headquartered in Vernon, Calif. It was purchased by VF Corp. in 2007 and sold to Delta Galil Industries in 2016.
Fred Segal became the first retailer to sell the brand after the founders loaded a stack of jeans into the trunk of a car and took them to the store. Key wholesale partners currently are Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s.
When Silverstein joined Seven, she did a deep dive into what the DNA of the brand stands for, largely by interviewing the founders.
“It was important to me that I have a deep understanding of what the brand was all about. It wasn’t that the brand was going off track. It was just about being confident of what it was and creating alignment in the organization.”
The brand has an elevated, cool image; targets affluent, socially engaged, culturally minded women from 25 to 55 years old, and keeps its logo discrete, subtly integrating it into the garment, such as on a print or on a zipper. But each product has some novelty or a degree of flair. “Intentional flair doesn’t mean it has to be tricky. Everything has to have a little something special.”