How Curated Assortments and Wholesale Are Driving True Religion’s Comeback — Retail Bum

Retail Bum
4 min readNov 28, 2023

In today’s dynamic world of retail, where macroeconomic challenges and fickle consumer whims are playing the lead roles, can True Religion jeans, once the rock star of premium denim, stage a comeback and dominate the scene again?

Founded in 2002 by Jeffrey Lubell, True Religion quickly gained popularity for its distinctive horseshoe stitching and bold designs. The brand positioned itself as a high-end denim label, targeting a niche market that sought both luxury and a rugged, rebellious aesthetic. However, shortly after gaining popularity as a consumer favorite, its swift decline ensued, ultimately prompting the company to file for bankruptcy in 2017.

Fast forward to today, True Religion is back in the saddle, raking in a reported $260 million in sales last year. Yet, rather than resting on its denim laurels, the brand is stitching together a new narrative, roping in consumers through fresh approaches, including some savvy wholesale partnerships.

In a conversation with Retail Bum, True Religion’s Executive Vice President of North American Wholesale Sales, Jim Kushner, delved into the denim maker’s strategy to cater to consumers and how the company is tuning into pivotal trends to drive sales.

“There’s a remarkable appetite and significant opportunity as consumers seek a tactile shopping experience. The desire to visit stores, touch and feel the products is prevalent, reminiscent of the trend of ‘going to the mall,’ which appears to be making a comeback, especially among younger individuals who had taken a break for a few years,” said Kushner.

What in-store experiences mean today

Considering this perspective, akin to True Religion, numerous other brands across various industry verticals are reassessing their in-store experiences.

Electronics retailer Best Buy, for one, has emphasized its reliance on brand partnerships with companies such as Lego, Therabody, and ŌURA to redefine in-store brand engagement. The company’s new engagement strategy now incorporates demonstrations, educational content, and digital interactions, creating an immersive storytelling experience.