- Kristopher Fraser |
L'Agence CEO Jeffrey Rudes knows a thing or twenty or about retail. Rudes is the original mastermind behind J Brand, one of the most successful denim brands in the United States. He knows merchandising, marketing and product like few other fashion businessmen do. Which is why in 2017 when he was named L'Agence's CEO, the brand was set on a suitable path for growth with the right man at the helm.
The contemporary Los Angeles-based brand has seen major growth over the past several years, from the expansion of brick-and-mortar stores to the addition of top wholesale accounts including Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus. At New York Fashion Week this season, L'Agence was poising themselves for their next phase of growth despite the turbulent climate for retail in America.
Jeffrey Rudes continues to steer L'Agence through growth
"Our inspiration this season was Earth tones, the desert and Nomadic feel," Rudes explained to FashionUnited. "We also added some pop color including red and green." Whereas the brand originally took a more minimalist approach in the beginning, each season they have branched out to do more fashion and statement pieces, that customers have responded very strongly to.
"Prints have become very important to the collection," Rudes said to FashionUnited. "We have the Earth tones popping with the reds and greens. The silhouettes are still easy and sophisticated, which is always what we do, and it's in our choice of fabrication. It really gives it a luxury feel."
For many American brands, globalization has become a key part of their business plans, given the amount of economic growth in foreign markets, but L'Agence hasn't let this affect their approach to design too much. "We're always looking for inspiration globally, but it's more color and print than anything else," Rudes said to FashionUnited. "We know our customer, and we're designing for her more than anything else. It's always that easy, sophisticated, simplicity, but it's wearable. That's the keyword I'd always use to describe L'Agence: wearable."
With two retail stores now, one in Los Angeles and one which recently opened on Madison Avenue in New York City, the brand has received a lot of feedback on who's coming and who their new customers are. "Two things are happening, we have a lot of new customers coming in, and they are aware of the brand," Rudes said to FashionUnited. "They are going into our wholesale accounts, whether it's Nordstrom or Intermix, they are always bringing in new customers, and we have brand loyal customers as well. Our customer is also getting younger."
The looming cloud of the retail apocalypse in America doesn't have Rudes scared either. "For anyone, especially for us, it's all about product," Rudes said. "If the product is right and its compelling and presented correctly, customers will respond. There might be less traffic in the stores, but who is executing good product is doing well."
The continued growth of the brand remains a rare gem among a sea of brand's trying to refine their clarity and quality. If a retail retail apocalypse is upon us, L'Agence is the new world order.photos: courtesy of Purple PR