Tenets of True Religion are denim and pop culture

Beijing (China Daily/ANN) - For most Chinese consumers, their first encounter with True Religion jeans is through the Black Eyed Peas song, My Hump.

The lyrics of the song go:

"... Seven Jeans, True Religion / I say no, but they keep giving, so I keep on taking / and no I ain't taken / We can keep on dating / I'll keep on demonstrating..."

The song aptly describes the design concept of the high-end jeans company: Hollywood, rap, music, celebrities and street style.

And to keep to its style, True Religion held a big rock party in Beijing's D Park when it opened its first boutique store in the Chinese mainland last month, bringing Taiwan rock star Shin to sing a couple of songs.

The denim company was started in 2002 by Jeffrey Lubell and Kym Gold. Based in Los Angeles, it has a close connection with Hollywood culture.

Its client list tells it all. That includes Cameron Diaz, Jessica Simpson and George Clooney. Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna all showed up in public wearing a pair of Sammy Jeans, the star product of True Religion.

Lubell once said that he could not think of a celebrity who has not worn True Religion at one time or another.

"There is definitely a cultural element and lifestyle behind the history of denim," Lubell says in an e-mail interview with China Daily.

"You can see these elements through pop culture such as celebrities, music and film deriving from the US and American culture as a whole.

"True Religion represents youth, a spirit of freedom and most importantly, individuality that all tie into this American aesthetic and lifestyle. It is a symbol of culture beyond just fashion," he explains.

When asked about his marketing strategy in the Chinese mainland, Lubell says he will focus on boutiques.

"[We are going to] continue to expand and open more stores similar to the US. We see China as a long-term investment and strategy," Lubell says.

Since the label has just opened its first store in Beijing, it is not known yet whether the same marketing strategy works here.

So far, Hong Kong's diva Coco Lee, and Taiwan TV hostess Pauline Lan have both appeared in public wearing True Religion jeans. But these two celebrities are very Westernized: Lee was raised in the US, and Lan was known as "Taiwan's Madonna" for her Western style.

Some mainland A-listers, however, like Fan Bingbing and Tang Wei, are trying to project a more elegant image, which means jeans and casual wear are a no-no.

The label, branding itself as a high-end jeans company, has a collection costing between $200 and $300 each pair.

Although the line is not considered expensive, most second- and third-tier celebrities would rather spend the same amount of money in branded accessories, says Zhang Jiabing, a talent manager with Enlight Media.

Zhang thinks these rising stars prefer to go for branded skirts rather than jeans to portray an elegant and gracious image.

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