Last month WWD reported that Jeff Rudes, CEO of J Brand, stepped down from the company he founded over a decade ago leaving us all to speculate what would happen to the wildly popular and somewhat exclusive brand.
Since it's launch in 2004, J Brand's extensive celebrity following forged it's place in an extremely oversaturated premium denim market. However, it was the introduction of their super-flattering skinny cargo "The Houlihan", one of the most popular and knocked-off styles that season, that solidified their status as a trend leader as well.
In lieu of Rudes' absence, Andrew Rosen, CEO of Theory and Helmut Lang stepped in as interim CEO. Even with those credentials, many of us still wondered what direction the brand would be headed. According to Fashion United, some of those questions will now be answered.
Fast Retailer Co. Ltd, the company that owns J Brand, is bringing famed denim innovator François Girbaud onboard.
Girbaud attempted to relaunch his eponymous line Marithé + François Girbaud last May (see Don't Call it a Comeback! Marithe + Francois Girbaud Celebrates 40 Years With Spring/Summer 2013 Collection), but unfortunately it went south and the company filed for bankruptcy later that year. Some things just weren't meant to be I guess.
The upside of this tragedy is J Brand gets the benefit of having the "Godfather of Denim" on their team. He was after all the inventor of the stonewash. His latest design aesthetic and techniques seen in his comeback, and ultimately final, collection for Spring/Summer 2013 was impressive to say the least with Phillip Lim and Miu Miu-worthy uses of denim. I can only guess that the ideas he was not able to implement in his own label will be modified for use with J Brand.
It hasn't been announced yet what role Girbaud will play in the company except that he will have a senior position. Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing if the slick J Brand embraces the technical progressiveness Girbaud is sure to bring or if it will be a mis-matched partnership.
We'll just have to wait and see.