Sometimes a sure thing isn’t so sure, a no lose situation results in a loss, and all the positive market research you get done points you in totally the wrong direction. When we first launched NoKipple we had a product that we absolutely knew could not fail, people we clamouring for it, we fielded easily 50 enquiries about availability and it had been spoken about by much of the denim press on the internet to favourable response. So what happened? Why did the NKxEK01, our first beautifully imagined collaborative article, not set the world alight as it seemed destined to do?
Let’s break down the strengths and weakness’s of the jeans, starting with the strengths. What we have here is the worlds first and only left hand twill, hand woven, hanks dyed, heavyweight denim. This in itself should have moved units, this is a real denim heads dream, a world first, a denim so soft and heavy it almost feels like you’re wearing a pair of heavy wool trousers. The dye technique mimics natural indigo to give a unique and varied hew, it also makes the colour extremely stubborn to fade, the rivets are all hand settled, the cut is a slightly slimmer straight cut for broad appeal and the pocket bags have chain stitched logos and are made from traditional Indonesian Batik fabric. This is quite a feature list to be honest, I’m pretty sure you can see why it would inspire confidence in us as retailers.
Now for a look at the negatives. They are made a by an almost unknown brand from Indonesia rather than a Japanese mega brand, we were told by several people in the run up to launch that a certain well known Japanese brand had made a similar jean and retailed it for over $1000. The fact that they are made in Indonesia we knew would be an issue for some people who are used to buying only Japanese denim, the fact that it was a straight cut would put some people off and also acknowledging also that not only are Elhaus a new brand but NoKipple is a new retailer.
So, on balance we still firmly believed that the features, difference and diversity of the jeans would make them a hit, and the way people were responding to the pre launch announcements only further endorsed that perspective. As our core belief is in marketing new brands from places which were not traditionally associated with denim and work wear, we knew the quality was good and their supply chain was ethical so we hoped that the strength of the product would help customers see past any slight bias against none Japanese or US denim, we seem to have been proved wrong.
None of this is to say that we haven’t sold quite a few pairs of these jeans, because we have, just nowhere near as many as we thought we would. Feedback from owners has been generally positive and everyone seems to love the denim, so what is it about these jeans that does not fully ring peoples bell? Are they too different? Are there too many features for people to fully appreciate? Does the list of attributes simply become white noise against the background of the competition, including our own brands from Japan? We’re not sure, but the jeans have certainly not been the run away success we had expected.
My personal feeling is that there is a combination of factors conspiring against them, they do look slightly different, they are not made in Japan and they are not made by an established brand, these factors alone will have an effect of popularity. The jeans are currently reduced in price on the NoKipple site, and I suspect that in a couple of years people may look back on them as a missed opportunity. I believe that simply for being the worlds first hand woven heavyweight denim that they deserve a place in denim history, and not as a white elephant.