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Pepe Jeans

The long-standing denim brand is emphasising its British roots in its new British Khaki collections

Pepe Jeans began life in London - although you wouldn’t know it from its UK branded denim market share, which has shrunk from about 24% in the late 1980s to a low single digit today. Group managing director Nish Soneji won’t reveal the actual figure, but estimates that the UK currently accounts for just 3% of the brand’s global turnover.

However, plans are afoot to reverse this decline, and Soneji expects to double sales within the next two years. He also expects to grow its base of UK stockists from 125 to about 175 by 2011, to make more of Pepe Jeans’ British roots. To this end, the brand has just unveiled British Khaki and British Khaki 309, two archive-inspired collections dominated by chinos, khaki and Savile Row-inspired shirting, which will be backed by Pepe Jeans but will have their own design and sales teams.

The ranges have yet to be photographed but the principal British Khaki collection runs to 40 items including military jackets and a “knockout” pair of twill trousers, all made by 20 British artisan manufacturers, like flannel specialist Fox Brothers in Wellington, Somerset. It will launch in spring 11 through about 15 retailers who, according to Soneji, are obliged to “adopt the full concept - not just cherry pick”.

A wider pool of retailers will have access to the 30-piece British Khaki 309 diffusion range, also launching for spring 11, which will focus on soft tailoring, with laundered Oxford shirts and T-shirts with placket details. Both collections have a bee logo as their emblem - a reference to the insects and manufacturers’ shared status as endangered features of the UK landscape that are “worth nurturing back to health”, according to Soneji.

However, British Khaki is as much a marketing exercise for Pepe Jeans as it is a standalone commercial venture. “For us it’s not a money-maker. This is a way of educating people,” says Soneji.

Wholesale prices for British Khaki 309 will start at about £24 for shirts and go up to £55 for jackets, a notch higher than Pepe Jeans’ mainline, where entry prices start at £11 and rise to £55. The pricing architecture for British Khaki has yet to be set, but tailored items will retail in the region of £110.

In a separate archive-inspired move, Pepe Jeans has also launched Heritage, a 75-piece Americana-inspired men’s denim collection that harks back to denim’s cowboy and workwear origins and hits stores this autumn. The range will launch in Selfridges in London in October for an exclusive two-week period, ahead of a roll-out to between 25 and 50 stores nationwide.

Pepe Jeans 020 7313 3800 www.pepejeans.com

Essentials

3%

Estimated contribution of UK sales to global turnover

Four

Number of UK standalone stores

40

Number of pieces in the spring 11 British Khaki collection

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