Interview Sean Gregory Peron
Marketing Strategy Director G-Star RAW
How to sell a pair of jeans today
Auch im Denimsektor haben die Vertikalen längst zum Angriff geblasen. Waren bis vor einigen Jahren Jeansmarken noch eine der letzte Bastion im Markenkarussell, wird es heute zunehmend schwieriger, sich gegen Zara & Co zu behaupten. Was machen etablierte Labels wie G-Star RAW, die bei der jungen Klientel in den letzten Dekaden immer einen guten Stand hatten, um der Konkurrenz zu trotzen? SI sprach mit dem gebürtigen US-Amerikaner Sean Gregory Peron, der seit drei Jahren als Marketing Strategy Director für das Wohlergehen der knapp 30 Jahre alten Denimbrand mitverantwortlich zeichnet.
With chains being almost unbeatable in prices and fashion degree of jeans and so many direct-consumer brands exploding, how can household names compete and reach today’s young consumer?
To stand out from the crowd is the biggest challenge for all brands. What we see for our market is that you have to pick a direction and stick to it, so that older but also younger audiences understand, what they can buy from you. G-Star RAW has a quite unique point of view in the denim market. We really focus on denim innovation and the future of denim, which is quite unusual, as denim is traditionally more connected to heritage, history and authenticity.
But we are trying to take denim forward.
Still, there are other brands that try to push denim forward, that do not rely on their history and have a very modern approach. How do you stand out from them?
Next year will be our 30th anniversary. So we have proven, that our concept works. G-Star RAW is based on very functional workwear items that are combined with our unique styling to create something new. For example we do special collabs like the one with Jean Prouvé or with the young and upcoming artist Jaden Smith (the son of American actor Will Smith, Anmerkung der Redaktion). We have a collection with Jaden coming up in a few months where we take the DNA of G-Star RAW about innovation and expand it to categories that go beyond what is just the cool thing. This is what helps us to keep fresh and exciting in the minds of the consumer.
How do you stand out as a jeans brand and how do you make G-Star RAW stand out in the stores?
Apart from innovation through style – like the ‚Elwood’ that was the first biker denim pant – we find other ways of innovation for example in terms of sustainability, which is very relevant to our consumer. There was a time in the market when sustainability was a mean to apologize. This is not our approach. If you want to make a denim pant for the future, you first have to think about the impact on the environment. And maybe by this approach, we can create something new and something unique.
We all know, that the most sustainable way of life would be to consume less. Is this something you would also tell your community?
Our way is to try to invent the most sustainable garment as possible and to show the consumer how he can use and reuse the product. We are running some pilots in Benelux with recycling, that we can hopefully rollout on a global level to help the consumers to think about holistic views. On our website people find advice how to care for their jeans and how to minimalize their impact. But at the same time we take it really seriously on our side, regarding the production and the creation.
Your ‚Return Your Jeans’ initiative sounds interesting. How is it going in stores?
With our sustainable product offering, having a recycle program in place only seems like a logical extension of our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint as well as a way to have our consumers join us on our sustainable journey. The program is currently in its test phase in the Benelux market. Enough communication and education with regard to recycling is key and the main take away is that our customers do care and are interested in this service. As soon as we close the pilot we can share more.
What in detail does a brand or retailer have to do today to literally sell a pair of jeans to a consumer?
We see that our massage with sustainability works extremely well for the young consumer. Last year we launched the most sustainable jeans we have ever made. We completely rethought the dying process and removed almost entirely the chemical waste and the release of CO2 in the creating process.
Do you feel that there is a trend towards consuming less in Generation Y and Z?
Well, I think what we see is a much more conscious decision in purchase. They are really very careful of what they buy. I cannot see that they are purchasing less per se, but in amore considered way.
And do feel that generation will avoid the verticals in the future and will go back to authentic and reliable brands with transparent supply chains? So will there be a moral aspect in fashion shopping in the future?
We hope so. And yes, I feel like this is the case. Take our collab with Jaden Smith who is extremely passionate about environmental issues since he was 11 years old: He started a brand called Just Water, that creates pourable water though carbonizing. He feels that it is his mission to educate his generation how to have a more sustainable live. We see him very much an ambassador for his generation. His voice is heard so the coop which is very exciting for us, as we tried one more time to do a denim collection as sustainable as possible. We hope that this something that will become standard.
Sean Gregory Peron is Marketing Strategy Director at G-Star RAW. Having joined the company in 2015, he is
responsible for setting the long-term vision of the brand and developing new platforms that enable G-Star to engage with a global audience in the shifting communications
landscape. Sean holds a MBA from IESE Business School and has
ten years experience working for luxury, fashion, retail, and sporting goods brands across multiple markets in both Asia and Europe. Originally hailing from the United States, Sean is now located in Amsterdam, Netherlands.