For some of us, denim is a lifestyle choice.
Sporting our prized jeans during work and play, it's only natural that maintaining our baby blues is part of life's daily routine. Bordering on an obsession similar to that of wine aficionados, 'denimheads' also thrive on a high that comes from seeking, enjoying and preserving special washes, cuts, vintages and grades of denim.
There's just one problem: luxury denim is notoriously expensive.
So what's a shopper to do?
One American brand is solving the problem of overpriced luxury denim.
LA-born fashion brand DSTLD (pronounced 'distilled') is out to change the world.
How? It's cutting out the traditional retail middleman and selling denim products directly to customers online and in its showroom. The result is a collection of high-end denim at affordable prices ($55-$105 a pair). Customers are raving about it.
This direct-to-consumer sales business model, paired with a thoughtful design esthetic (they use natural indigo dyes and opt for creative fabric choices like highly-sustainable Tencel and American-made denim) has garnered them a cult-like following among the young fashion elite (Kendall Jenner, Cara Delevingne, Selena Gomez, Carrie Underwood), and common denimheads alike.
Upon my recent visit to the City of Angels (LA is also decidedly the denim capital of the world), I met with the bright team at DSTLD in their airy showroom studio in West Hollywood.
"We aim for seasonless pieces. You'll never see any trendy colors in our collections." says Corey Epstein, Co-CEO. At the design level, DSTLD focuses on fit, neutral shades, timeless designs, and produces responsibly with local and international suppliers using high quality fabrics.
A significant portion of DSTLD's jeans are made in LA.
The collection for women features lighter shades in Tencel for warmer days, dark raw indigo, and shiny coated black powerstretch denim for nights about town.
The line for men-folk is a veritable playground of fabrics, notably 12.75oz raw denim, soft twill, and Made-in-USA blues from North-Carolina's Cone Denim.
DSTLD is one of several new fashion brands actively carving out space in the new direct-to-consumer world of fashion, promising premium products with significant savings for customers by cutting out department store margins and cost overheads.
This week, DSTLD will have its place in US history as the first fashion & apparel business to seek equity crowdfunding from their community of brand loyalists through the Jumpstart Our Businesses Act (JOBS Act), the final rules and forms of which were adopted this week by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) on May 16, 2016.
With the issue of preferred shares, DSTLD is hoping to raise as much as $10M. It has received $16M in indicated interest to date through its proposal on SeedInvest.com. Previously, DSTLD did as traditional startups do and raised funds through venture capital firms (approx. $5M to date).
So what does federally regulated equity crowdfunding mean to DSTLD customers? "Our customers are our first point of feedback, so having them contribute and benefit from the brand's growth journey in a structured way makes sense to all parties involved." DSTLD will also continue to engage directly with its consumers for design and product decisions as it continues to expand its collection to bomber jackets and tees.
Self-proclaimed as the 'tattooed brother of' Everlane (another West-coast success story aimed at breaking traditional retail business models in fashion for the benefit of consumers), DSTLD is one of several disruptors in the apparel market built by ex-business school grads who are seeking to engage customers and brand loyalists in their growth strategy, shaping a new era of customer engagement in the fashion industry.