A BRIEF HISTORY
The year is 1973, right in the middle of London’s famous Portobello Market’s bustle. A bundle of teens clusters around an unassuming market stall, protected from the icy rain by a railway bridge. Euphoria is in the air. The colorful flock undertakes the far journey by metro, autobus and bicycle from every corner in London, just to come here: the hippest clothing market of this metropolis. Their goal: to snag a pair of these highly coveted denims which are so difficult to get a hold of and which are on everyone’s lips. Here, under a bridge in Notting Hill in 1973, is where the story of Pepe Jeans begins.
Back then, the world of fashion brands wasn’t all about marketing strategies yet. It was about people who created spectacular, sometimes daring, and in any case exciting fashion. This was the time in which Pepe Jeans’ founders, Nitin Shah and his brothers Arun and Milan, let their creative juices flow: They created denims with exciting details for an audience that was tired of the torrent of boring, anonymous jeans.
Let’s make a huge leap of four decades forward. Today, Pepe Jeans markets in 60 countries and has almost 7,000 POS, more than 300 stores and 2,000 employees at its disposal worldwide and still remains as true to itself as ever: Even today, it is about iconic denim and defiant, young fashion amidst an era darkened by conformism.
It didn’t take the Shah brothers long to realize the popularity of Pepe Jeans exceeded their expectations. They gave up their full-time jobs to dedicate their time entirely to their company and, basically over night, the company began to operate out of a control centre in London with no less than 25,000 sqm. By 1980 Pepe Jeans already locked horns with those American heavy weights which had dominated the landscape of British denim boutiques. Overseas, Pepe Jeans’ popularity in England didn’t stay a secret for long, and so the brand dared getting started on an international market. 1984, after opening a new office and showrooms, a downright invasion of the United States was successful, and in the same year the brand reached Ireland.
Elated by the fast success and inspired by the wish to spread a message with an attractive, sexy style, Pepe Jeans signed the hottest fashion photographer at the time, Bruce Weber, for its most ambitious advertising campaign to date. The advertisement featuring Bridget Hall, who made her breakthrough as a famous super model shortly after, did not only set new standards in the fashion world due to its outstanding production but Pepe Jeans also used it as the first opportunity to give proof of the company’s legendary ability to discover new faces and future celebrities.
TV announcer and fashion guru Alexa Chung is the newest discovery, but celebrities such as Jason Priestley, Laetitia Casta, Donovan Leitch, Ashton Kutcher, Sienna Miller and Cristiano Ronaldo preceded her. Guess who offered Kate Moss her very first advertising campaign. Soon after, advertising spots for cinemas and TV followed. From Leigh Bowery’s extravagant image narrations to Raindance, a 90-second love story between Nevada and Notting Hill to the strains of How Soon Is Now, the iconic hymn by The Smiths … Each Pepe Jeans campaign left unerasable traces in the annals of fashion advertising.
In the 90’s, Pepe Jeans continued its expansion strategy in Europe and seduced all of France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland. With the turn of the millenium, Pepe Jeans became a permanent feature among the great of denim fashion. In recent years, special attention was directed to breaking Pepe Jeans’ way through to emerging markets such as Latin America and Asia. Far from resting on its laurels, the brand defined new lines, amongst them the Kid’s Collection in 2002, the Line 73, a rocking premium denim collection, the iconic collection Andy Warhol by Pepe Jeans that came into the market in 2007, and just recently new products as shoes and eyewear.
Fashion is the epitome of advancement, the creation of tendencies and styles at a breathtaking pace. It is these values that the Red Bull Formula 1 Racing Team embodies. Today, Pepe Jeans is the team’s sponsor and, thanks to its ability to bring denim fashion into the market with ever new energy, maintains a leading position in the world of fashion.