Andrew Townsin, UK commercial director for Pepe Jeans, talks denim, iconic art and Andy Warhol with Daniella Cagol
What are the big trends influencing Pepe Jeans’ autumn 09 collections?
Womenswear is influenced by the 1950s, 1960s and 19ew70s. The Rockability range has hourglass-silhouette pencil skirts, body-con dresses and biker-style jackets along with pea coats and classic trenches. There’s also a mixture of tartans and bright ginghams, leopard prints and polka dots. Menswear has a utilitarian theme with engineered outerwear, from slim tailored trousers to thunder and lightning-print T-shirts.
How is the economic climate affecting Pepe Jeans?
I don’t think it’s destroying the market, but rather the landscape. We’ve done a bit of restructuring. We have a new wholesale team assessing our particular market to make sure we are being relevant to our buyers while keeping true to the brand.
How is the weak sterling affecting your pricing architecture for 2009?
We believe in consistency and it’s that and our brand support to customers that will allow us to grow. Our pricing architecture is different. While many brands are increasing their prices, we have decided to absorb the impact and keep prices consistent as per previous seasons.
How has the brand’s Andy Warhol range evolved since its inception?
Autumn 09 is Pepe Jeans’ third season of collaboration with the Andy Warhol Foundation and it continues to be a statement of individuality. We’ve been moving away from the bold use of the iconic imagery seen in the spring 09 collections, and are now emulating a more subtle layering of Warhol’s lesser-known works.
How are the themes within the Andy Warhol collection categorised?
They can be divided into four categories. The first is Monochrome, initially inspired by Warhol’s black and white advertising prints, which brings a more sophisticated colour palette and clean styling to the range. The second is Rockstar. This theme brings a harder edge with powerful imagery of guns and knives. Fame and Glamour, the third category, has a more youthful approach; its imagery comprises of stars such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. The fourth, Screen Art, follows on from our spring 09 collection. Its fun and brightness is the perfect escape from the winter darkness.
If Warhol were to have seen the collection himself, what do you think he would say?
When generating the designs for this particular line we always have to ask ourselves, what would Warhol think? I think he would have been proud of the vision that we’ve delivered.
How does the Portobello Road shop reflect the brand’s evolution?
Our Portobello shop is a huge part of the history of Pepe Jeans. It was the first store we opened in the UK back in 1973 and played host to our launch party when Sienna Miller was starring in our campaigns. We now reflect the Andy Warhol collection entirely in this store.
What are your plans for Pepe Jeans over the next 18 months?
The credit crunch and how we continue to grow is a challenge, but we believe we are better equipped than ever to continue our growth over the next year and a half.
Who is your fashion icon and why?
It would have to be Giorgio Armani. I don’t wear a suit very often but when I do there is nothing better than an Armani one. He epitomises consistency and quality of product.
Renowned for his sexy and stylish tailoring, it is no surprise that Armani is known as one of the most successful designers to come out of Italy. Born in 1934, Armani tried his hand at many professions before becoming what many consider as the Italian ambassador for fashion. From medicine to photography to serving in the military, Armani didn’t enter the fashion world until being hired at La Rinascente, one of Italy’s top department stores. With the help of a close friend he set up his
first brand, the now ubiquitous Giorgio Armani. His name became synonymous with glamour and celebrity in 1980, when he dressed film star Richard Gere in the hit movie American Gigolo. His creations - now wardrobe staples - are well-defined suits with clean tailored lines, all encompassing the soft-shouldered, unstructured Armani look.