A conversation with Terry Bates of Denham The Jeanmaker

    Stepping in to Denham The Jeanmaker's serene, whitewashed showroom from the grimy bustle of Shoreditch's Kingsland Road has an instantly calming effect - the perfect antidote for any buyer suffering season-fatigue, and a welcome respite from the traffic chaos for Fashion Buyer too.
    I'm here to meet Terry Bates who after tours of duty at G-Star, Pepe Jeans and Replay, has now been enlisted as managing director of Denham The Jeanmaker's UK operations. Joining the brand in December, Bates has already ramped up distribution from the six accounts he inherited to an enviable list of 52 which counts some of the country's most respected fashion retailers from Selfridges, Accent and ASOS to John Anthony, Cruise and Harvey Nichols.
    Switched-on buyers and regular readers of the Fashion Buyer blog will already be well versed with Denham The Jeanmaker and its modernist approach to denim-led men's and women's design; an approach which has consistently delivered detail-rich reinterpretations of classic men's and women's clothing. With just one week left before his sales team close the order books for autumn 2010, we caught up with Terry to talk Denham.

    Q. How would you describe Denham The Jeanmaker?
    A. We take the obsessiveness of the Japanese, the logistics of the Dutch, Britain's tailoring heritage, and the vintage tradition of Americana, and put it all together in a fresh and exciting way.

    Q. What have been the most popular pieces amongst buyers in Denham The Jeanmaker's autumn 2010 collection?
    A. Denim is certainly at the foundation of the brand but we're also fortunate enough to have an excellent outerwear collection. Every buyer has to have strong jackets and jeans in order to achieve a healthy average yield. For us the strongest categories have ben jeans, jackets, shirts and T-shirts, in that order. The problem in the UK is that shoppers only buy outerwear when it turns really cold and that's usually in November, which only gives retailers a couple of months to sell them before the Sale period kicks in. It's crazy but the indies have to follow the lead set by the multiples and department stores, and it's too late now to go backwards.

    Q. Which jeans silhouettes have buyers backed for next season?
    A. For women, the slim or skinny silhouette remains strong alongside the boyfriend fit. The straight-leg styles which has led men's jeans sales for so long is now sloping off and buyers are looking for new fits and products which look different from the norm. Everything has to have a point of difference and details are more important than ever; something we're very conscious of at Denham The Jeanmaker. These days, guys are experimenting more confidently with jeans shapes than ever before and are actually buying different jeans shapes to match their footwear, whether it's a Converse trainer, a boot, or a pair of classic brogues.

    Q. Can you explain Denham The Jeanmaker's pricing strategy?
    A. The jeans are priced from £46 to £160 and jackets are £92 to £220 at wholesale. We offer a 2.6 margin which is generally better than most denim brands. In the premium jeans market we're aiming for the £120-£150 price band at retail, but in today's market a £120 pair of jeans has to be worth £120 to consumers. And, that value has to be instantly recognisable through fit, quality of fabric, wash and detail. People are still willing to pay over £100 for a pair of jeans but it has to be the right product, the right price, and the right distribution.

    Q. Which shows will you be exhibiting at for spring 2011?
    A. We'll be taking the Denham The Jeanmaker collection to Pitti Uomo, Bread & Butter and CPH Vision. Pitti is solely focused on men's and Bread & Butter's focus is still largely menswear. Clearly we need to give our women's collection as much attention as the men's which is why we've decided to do CPH Vision next season.

    Q. In terms of driving popularity for the brand, how does your approach to the women's range differ from the men's?
    A. I'm confident we have the right womenswear product but our approach is very different. Men buy garments based on how strong the product is and whether their mates are buying into the brand too. Women are driven by fit, but they'll only come to the brand in the first place if we're seen on the backs of the right celebrities.

    Q. And finally, how is business out there for the buyers who you seen over the last few weeks?
    A. Business is good for the good retailers. Buyers are conscious that they need to bring fresh products to their customers but they are also aware that it has to be the right product and that they introduce it to their rails at the right time for their particular part of the country.

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