The Los Angeles-based premium denim brand said last week it signed a lease for its first full-price branded store at 1715 North Damen Avenue in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood. The 1,890-square-foot store is to open in August and will be in good company with neighbors such as Marc by Marc Jacobs, Nanette Lepore, G-Star, Intermix and Scoop NYC.
Marc Crossman, president and chief executive officer, said the company has been planning its expansion into owned retail for more than a year and wants to open as many as 50 stores in the next five years.
"We're making sure we build a management team around us that has done this before," Crossman said. "We have a very full collection, so if you look at our line, we offer everything from outerwear to knits....We want to showcase that to the rest of the world."
The company's move into retail comes as denim-based brands across the price spectrum devote substantial resources to the same goal.
True Religion has been among the most aggressive, opening 11 stores last year and signing leases for seven new stores this year. Levi's has 73 stores in North America and will open a Times Square flagship in New York in May. Silver Jeans also has plans to open its first branded store in Denver, with more likely throughout the U.S. Premium denim market leader Seven For All Mankind has also started its own retail campaign with the stated goal of opening 100 stores over the next five years. The competition for prime locations is intense.
"We're in a period where everybody is trying to grab real estate to open stores," said Crossman, who added that the company's search for space will focus on high-quality locations like Bucktown in Chicago, Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. He hopes to have four stores open by the end of this year.
Building the retail heft of Joe's Jeans is the latest development in what has been a tumultuous several years for the brand. Crossman has witnessed significant changes since joining the board in 1999, when the company was based in Tennessee and going under the name of Innovo Group.