True Religion: A Marketing 50 Case Study

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Photo: Tony Pettinato
Three years ago, some analysts feared True Religion Apparel's hot-selling jeans, priced at $200 to $300 a pair, would quickly become old news. Far from it. Sales have surged, and the line has expanded.

Jeffrey Lubell launched True Religion in Los Angeles in 2002 by giving jeans away to boutique clerks, influential celebrities and stylists. Sales have grown steadily since, soaring 170.5% to $17.1 million for the second quarter, ended June 30, vs. the same period a year earlier.

"The jeans are designed around certain body types, then the styles have different names," says Chana Taft-Schuman, 36, director of marketing, licensing and PR. And she means that literally. "Becky" and "Stella" are women's styles, and "Billy" and "Jacob" are for men. "Joey" is one of the most popular -- available for both sexes.

The company sells men's, women's and kids' apparel through boutiques and high-end department stores, and 37 True Religion stores have opened since 2005. True Religion began selling jeans through its website in 2005, and it's "a strong sales channel," Ms. Taft-Schuman says.

A print campaign, created in-house, broke this year, and this month True Religion billboards will appear in New York, along with ads on taxis, buses and kiosks.

But the ad efforts haven't diminished the need to help celebrities get True Religion. Ms. Taft-Schuman and her staff respond to the requests of influential stylists, and the jeans are often spotted on TV shows such as ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and MTV's "The Hills."
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