Denim Jeans, a cotton apparel originally designed for the working class, has fascinated the poor and the rich alike, and has even survived the changing fashion trends of the youth for over a century. Today, the word jeans stand for a necessary fashion garment to be owned by every class and section of the society. But the history of jeans hasn’t always been so classy. In fact jeans had originated as a garment for the working class.
Jeans as a fabric originated in the city of Genoa, Italy in the form of cotton corduroy. During the Republic of Genoa, the jeans as a raw material were exported by sailors of Genoa to various parts of Europe. But it was not until the late 18th century did jeans arrive in the United Stated.
The creator of jeans as a garment is a young Jew named Levi Strauss, who had immigrated from Germany to America in the year 1851. Searching for a sturdy material to make pants for miners, did Strauss come across jeans. Later, a tailor named Davis added copper rivets to jeans pants to strengthen their weak points. Davis and Strauss then obtained the US patent to manufacture riveted jeans. Jeans as garments were originally made for the working class such as cowboys which in the course of time became famous among teenagers.
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Modern day jeans have changed a lot since its inception. Jeans had already become famous in the United States during the World War II. Todays, jeans manufacturers offer a whole lot to the customers than just a pair of pants. Techniques such as pre-washed or pre-shrinking of jeans are adopted for fashion purposes. To give a worn out look, manufacturers use lots of methods such as stone washing or sand blasting.
Jeans in the Indian market
Since the economic reforms in India, the middle class India has been more empowered. Globalization has brought in more disposable income for the people of the country. The increasing Western influence with many MNCs operating here has changed lifestyles and fashion trends of the youth. Not so long ago, no good quality jeans were available in India for domestic customers. In fact, after we started manufacturing jeans domestically, they were mostly imported for our western counterparts.
Arvind Mills, in 1995 launched the first branded Indian jeans. Realising the market potential, since then many MNCs like Lee and Levis started their marketing in India. Several luxury brands like Calvin Klein and GAS were not able to compete in these markets. They are now in a refractory phase in the Indian market.
Today, the jeans market in India is pegged at approximately Rs. 6000 crores – the segment which has traditionally been for unbranded garments category. Moreover the arrival of international brands such as Wrangler, Levis, Lee, etc. is continuously redefining the Indian market.
“the jeans markets in India and China are both set to experience strong volume and value growth over 2010-2015, registering value CAGRs of 11% and 8%, respectively” – Euromonitor.
The major players in this market category, having their shares in the Indian economy are wrangler
Levi Strauss & Co. is a worldwide corporation organized into three geographic divisions: Levi Strauss Americas (LSA), based in the San Francisco headquarters; Levi Strauss Europe, Middle East and Africa (LSEMA), based in Brussels; and Asia Pacific Division (APD), based in Singapore. Approximately 10500 people across the globe work in the company. The core Levi’s was founded in 1873 in San Francisco, specializing in riveted denim jeans and different lines of casual and street fashion.
The history of Levis is as old as the history of jeans. As mentioned earlier, Levis Strauss was the original maker and promoter of denim jeans. Levis Strauss was the company to get their patent to make and sell riveted jeans. But sales of the rough and tough denim wears were confined to working class people of the west such as lumberjacks, cowboys and railroad workers. Levi’s jeans were first introduced to the East during the dude ranch craze of the 1930s, when vacationing Easterners returned home with tales of the hard-wearing pants with rivets. But the major boost came when blue jeans was declared an essential commodity during the World War II and were sold only to people engaged in defence work. From a company with fifteen salespeople, two plants, and almost no business east of the Mississippi in 1946, the organization grew in thirty years to include a sales force of more than 22,000, with 50 plants and offices in 35 countries.
Levi Strauss maintains strict policies regarding labour working conditions in its factories located within and outside of America.
Levis India was launched in 1995. Since then it has come a long way to make its presence felt in the Indian industry. They have adapted and changed their market strategy to suit the highly competitive Indian market. They have also changed their strategy for denim and non-denim wears. Their primary cause of success is their market strategy of different price bands for different categories and segments of jeans. Levis is seeking to strengthen their value brand value- Signature, priced between Rs 599-999 in small towns and upto 1399 in cities. For premium segments, Levis has a price range of Rs 2000-4000, for super premium Rs 4000-6000 and for Connoisseur Rs 6000-12000. This lets the brand capture market for different economy groups. Levis also has an effective distribution strategy with over 5000.
Levis is one of the leading brands in Indian denim market as the fashion conscious youth of India has recognized its match of best fit and affordable prices.
Wrangler is a jeans manufacturing company owned by the VF Corporation in Europe. Its headquarters is in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina in the United States. Although Wrangler has production facilities all over the world, it enjoys its popularity mainly in Europe and Asia.
The story of Wrangler starts in 1897 in North Carolina. Twenty year old C.C. Hudson, in search of a fortune in the textile industry, makes his way to a textile farm where he earns 25cents a day. Shortly in 1904, the textile mill closes and Hudson and his mates buy several of the sewing machines of the factory. They rent a space above a grocery store and name it as the Hudson Overall Company. In 1919, the business built its first factory and changed its name to Blue Bell Overall Company. It is told that a group of railroad workers who bought overalls at the Hudson store gave C.C. Hudson a bell, and after spending time in the factory, the bell – like everything else – became covered in blue denim dust, hence the name “Blue Bell.” Blue Bell makes its presence felt in the textile industry for the first time in 1936 by launching Super Big Ben Overalls made out of 100% Sanforized Fabric that reduces shrinkage after washing to less than 1%. This sets a new standard for the industry. In 1946 Blue Bell hires famous tailor Rodeo Ben who closely works with cowboys to develop a jeans line for them. Blue Bell workers take part in a contest to give the jeans a brand name and they came first by the name Wrangler, which stands for a working cowboy.
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In 1947, Blue Bell introduces the Wrangler 11MWZ to American consumers, featuring several innovations aimed particularly at cowboys. It was later renamed to 13MWZ which is still available worldwide. For the first time Blue Bell makes its international presence felt in Europe by opening up a factory in Belgium in the year 1962. By 1973 Wrangler jeans had already become a youth icon, synonymous with teenagers the world over. Blue Bell merges with the VF Corporation of Pennsylvania, in 1982 preparing the ground for the global success of the Wrangler brand. By 1996, Wrangler gains 20% market share in America. 2001: Wrangler commences making its jeans in Mexico. Wrangler brand is recognized in 22 European countries by 2004.Wrangler’s last sewing plant in America closes in 2005.
Wrangler jeans now operate all over the world in countries of North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. Since its inception, the marketing strategy of the company has been to cash in on its rough and tough masculine outlook. While the prime focus of the company is on male customers it’s trying to rope in more women customers. Wrangler’s is a time tested strategy being used all over the world as well as India. It periodically introduces new lines of fashionable outfits to stay put in the market.
One of the first foreign jeans brand to be launched in India was Wrangler. Wrangler was launched in India in1990 by Arvind Fashion’s Ltd.. Arvind mills was already manufacturing India made jeans brand it the name of Ruf n Tuff. In the year Arvind mills acquired the license from VF Corporation to manufacture and export international Wrangler denims to the SAARC nations.
Pepe Jeans London
Pepe jeans originally started off in 1973as a small as a small weekend roadside shop in the Portobello Road Market of west London. The shop was owned by three brothers Nitin Shah, Arun Shah and Milan Shah. Later, the Shah Brothers started their own company Sholemay Ltd trading, known as Pepe. The word Pepe was used because it was short and could be written without much trouble. By 1975, the number of stores grew to four and later they opened a jeans boutique in Kings Road, London. Afterwards they opened their second boutique at Carnaby Street, London and a 25,000-feet office and warehouse at the Avonmore Trading Estate. Pepe enjoyed mass success throughout 1980s in Europe.
Pepe jeans is now sold in over 80 countries all over the world in the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Latin America. When the brand launched first in India, the market of jeans was in its nascent stage. The idea of jeans being a comfortable wear was unheard of. Consequently as expected, it took time to build brand and consumer awareness through media. The advent of international brands in India also led to greater awareness.
The target audience of Pepe is teenagers in the age group of 15-25yrs in the SEC A+ and SEC A society. They are the fashion conscious hoards, who have their own set of cultures. More recently, Pepe has recognized its market for 10-16yrs old teenage group as there is a lack of branded apparels in that group.
Building brand image is a gradual and continuous process for Pepe. Pepe takes a 360 degree approach to marketing through both above the line and below the line strategies. Billboard printings, advertisements in national and regional newspapers, magazine ads, etc. are all above the line activities aimed at creating visual consumer awareness. Below the line activities consists of sponsoring of programs at Times youth challenge, MTV shows, organizing fashion shows, various types of in store activities, banner stands etc. . Pepe also has ambitious future plans. For the past few years, Pepe jeans in India has been growing at a rate of 35%, while the market itself is growing at the rate of 15% per annum, and it has plans to continue its market growth at the same rate. Moreover, the company is trying its best to attract female teenagers to its consumer base.
Although the company is facing stiff competition in the India market, it has carved out a niche of its own as a brand not only for the young, but also for those young at heart.
Spykar is a home grown Indian apparel brand that started its journey through the denim industry. The Spykar story started way back in 1992. Mr. Prasant Pabrekar, an electrical engineer back then inherited his father’s dry cleaning business. In his college days Mr. Pabrekar ran an audio cassette assembling centre. But it was the experience gained in the apparel industry that led him to open his open business. With a seed capital of Rs 1 Lakh from a credit society, Mr. Pabrekar opened up his denim brand under the name of Spykar. But in the first year of operations, he stumbled upon a loss of Rs 10 Lakh!!
Mr. Pabrekar’s extensive knowledge in the denim industry led him to take up new efforts in the manufacturing process. His sensitivity to customer’s demands gave him the idea that all testing of Spykar jeans to be done on humans rather than mannequins.
The company is firmly committed to being the first choice of casual wears of the youth and hence it builds up its product portfolio accordingly. All its marketing efforts are targeted at making the brand relevant at all times to this discerning audience. The company launched aggressive campaigns in colleges, pubs and coffee shops as well as sponsored college events and fashion shows to target the right clients and a year later this brave attempt paid off, the SPYKAR sales doubled and today the company has a 12% market share in India’s denim industry. The company is clocking an annual turnover of about an Rs 160 crore.
Spykar products are available at over 700 MBOs across the country along with large format stores like Pantaloons, Shoppers Stop etc. . Spykar jeans have approximately 148 Exclusive outlets throughout the country. To make its presence felt in the international market, it has opened up exclusive outlets in Australia.
In 1994, Spykar launched its product Helium’s, a range of cotton casual wears. This followed by Forray’s in 1996, a range of after office leisure garments.
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