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NYDJ Apparel Looks to Expand Its Appeal

NYDJ Apparel, a jeans brand that made its mark by catering to consumers over the age of 40, is looking to broaden its appeal.

The company’s goal, according to Vice President of Marketing Steve Morales, is to provide “something for everyone.”

The downtown-based company is starting a new marketing campaign on May 9. Morales said it will feature a yet-to-be-named former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and her daughters, “showing a powerful bond between women.”

The campaign will promote NYDJ’s Forever Comfort collection that launched in December, consisting of what the company calls “luxe and soft cotton styles made to unwind at home,” such as T-shirts, sweatpants and sweatshirts.

The collection’s debut coincides with a pandemic-induced boom in athleisure wear, with home-bound consumers ditching work attire for more comfortable styles.

The marketing campaign will also boost NYDJ’s Sculpt-Her, a collection of compression pants, shorts, leggings and skirts priced in the $79 to $89 range that launched last month — perhaps another nod to pandemic-induced apparel trends.

Lisa Rudes-Sandel founded the brand in 2003 along with her siblings and her father, George Rudes, in Vernon as Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. The low-rise denim styles that dominated the fashion scene at the time — not always flattering for the figures of mature women — served as Rudes-Sandel’s inspiration.

She “solved a problem for a customer that wasn’t feeling the low-rise vibe,” Morales said, adding that the company’s “lift tuck technology” helped reshape curves for a better fit.

NYDJ’s “Original Slimming Fit” jeans were picked up by major U.S. department stores, quickly becoming a favorite brand for women over 35.

Rudes-Sandel sold a controlling interest in NYDJ to Falconhead Capital in 2008 for about $100 million. The New York-based private equity firm helped the jeans maker grow its domestic and international markets, expand into shirts and blouses, and kickstart ecommerce. It also shortened the company’s name in 2013 from Not Your Daughter’s Jeans to NYDJ to reflect its expansion into sportswear.

NYDJ traded hands again in January 2014 when New York-based Crestview Partners and Maybrook Capital Partners in Beverly Hills acquired the company for $385 million. Its net revenue for 2014 was approximately $166 million, according to a report from Moody’s Investors Service Inc.

The new owners appointed Robert Skinner Jr. as president and chief executive, and in June 2016 replaced him with former Levi Strauss & Co. executive Lisa Collier.
 NYDJ ended the year with $139 million in net revenue according to Moody’s.
The current owners, downtown-based Sunrise Apparel Group, picked up NYDJ in October 2019 for undisclosed terms. Morales joined the management team a couple of months later, seeing “a huge potential” along with several challenges.

The brand had a loyal customer base, comprised of women in their 40s who can be counted on for repeat purchases. It also had a “great wholesale partner” in Nordstrom Inc., according to Morales.

But the brand also inherited expensive, long-term vendor contracts he said, including its 2018 ecommerce platform deal with San Francisco-based Salesforce.com Inc. The operations needed to be nimbler, Morales said, adding that the company has since switched to subscription-based Shopify Inc. NYDJ’s also spending more on media buys, which includes paid search and paid social while Sunrise’s in-house creative team, which also supports sister brands Seven7, American Rag and Donald Pliner, developed the latest marketing campaign.

NYDJ has about 130 employees and operates three brick-and-mortar stores in Arizona, New York and Colorado.

Gerard Guez and Todd Kay founded Sunrise as Tarrant Co. in 1985, focusing on private-label denim. The company changed its name to Tarrant Apparel Group and began trading on Nasdaq in 1996. The founders took it private in mid-2009 in a cash deal valued at $15.2 million, and renamed it Sunrise Brands. The holding company also owns Coldestina Designs, Tags, and NO Jeans.

Mediha DiMartino
Mediha DiMartino
Mediha DiMartino covers retail, manufacturing and the ports. She can be emailed here.

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