Choice is something which we don’t lack in the denim and work wear scene, there are brands making jeans, jackets, shirts, boots, tees, work pants, belts, wallets and vests for any and all taste and even almost every budget these days, the market looks pretty well stacked and has lead to people wondering where it can go next? Are there any gaps left for innovators who offer something complimentary but different? I believe that there is, and some of those gaps are being filled right now.
A particular market which is not being fully exploited, and one which I have particular interest in as a parent, is children’s denim and work wear. Now, I know that there is possibly not the money is children’s wear that there is in clothing for adults, and I know that while the manufacturing/ sewing line is working on kids jeans that they are not working on higher ticket, higher priced adult jeans, but there is still opportunity here. Many of the older denim enthusiasts are now parents, not just parents but parents with spare income to spend on denim and I have no doubt that many of these parents would like to buy some high quality denim, boots and jackets for their kids.
Over in Holland Guido Kerssens is one of the first to explore the potential of this space in the market with his children’s selvedge denim line Oyuki. Guido has realised that most children need freedom of movement in their clothing due to their active life styles and has opted to make Oyuki jeans from a blended denim for added stretch, whilst retaining the colour and fade qualities which us denim heads value so much. The denim is supplied by renowned Turkish denim mill Isko and the brand name is contrition of Guidos daughter and wife’s names, it is also happily the name of a popular Japanese fairy tale. Oyuki jeans feature a ton of details which normally we are pleased to see on adult jeans, and at a price point of under $150 they are pretty competitive. For my own part I know that my son has asked Giles and Haraki of Iron Heart about making children’s jeans a staple of their range, and knowing Tommy he won’t stop asking until either they relent, or he is wearing adult sized jeans anyway.
Another area of potential in the market can be found in Japanese designed, European/American/ Asian made clothing. For a long time it has tended to go the other way, with designs dreamt up all over the world making their way to Japan to be assembled, slowly however things look like changing. customer demand for Japanese products is high, they have an eye for design and quality which suits the quality clothing market perfectly, but market forces and the world economy still find it difficult to buy Japanese made products on a large scale due to the high wholesale unit costs, so what if the products were designed in Japan but made elsewhere to Japanese quality standards?
A company who I am currently talking to (CAB Clothing) does exactly this. They are a basics brand making plain tee’s, hoodies, sweatshirts, flannel and chambray shirts, all of which are designed in Japan, all of which are manufactured in China (to ethical standards from locally sourced materials), and all of which are then sent back to Japan for quality checking. Not surprisingly the unit costs, even accounting for import and export, are much cheaper than carrying out the entire operation in Japan. This model allows CAB to pass a decent portion of that saving onto their retailer and customer resulting in a far more palatable price point for people looking for Japanese designed and quality assured basics, think of it as taking the Uniqlo model a step further.
There are quite a few more market gaps which could be further developed by the right brand or product and this is a subject which occupies a more than healthy percentage of my time. If you think of any unspoilt territory and feel like sharing your idea, drop it in the comments box bel