When Sebastian McCall realized that there was a need for quality jeans to fit various sizes, he was spurred to launch his own line.
“We launched our brand pretty much out of necessity in the market,” says McCall, who launched Sebastian McCall Jeans in 2010.
McCall started his brand at a time when the economy slowed down, and many jeans vendors started cutting back on quality to increase their profit margins.
“I figured that I could control the consistency of the manufacturing with my own brand. I knew it was going to be difficult, but I wanted to be a premium brand,” said McCall, who is the owner of Charles Porter Boutique, Inc.
McCall used experience culled from 12 years of interacting with customers at his retail stores Charlie’s Jeans, to design the brand. He aspired to create jeans that were superior in quality and fit.
The jeans retail for $150 and up and come in skinny, straight leg, slim boot cut, boot cut and trouser varieties. Sizes range from 23 to 36 (00 to 16) for women, and 29 to 40 for men. They are currently sold at the Charlie’s Jeans stores located at 233 Market Street and 1733 Chestnut Street.
“The jean was designed so that a person could just take it off the rack and it fits. That is what I think sets us apart from other jean brands,” says the 38-year-old Philadelphia native.
McCall spends a significant amount of time designing his jeans, tweaking patterns and flying back and forth to the manufacturing plant in California. McCall says 80 percent of his fabrics are from the U.S., while 20 percent is sourced from Italy.
The McCall label accounts for 75 percent of the Charlie’s Jeans denim sales. In addition to the Sebastian McCall label, Charlie’s Jeans carries 30 other brands, including 7 For All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity, Hudson and J Brand. The stores sell approximately 1,000 pairs of jeans per month.
While the focus is on denim, Charlie’s Jeans also feature blouses, shirts, dresses and jackets.
Meredith Albert, general manager, Charlie’s Jeans is often on hand to advise customers about finding their ideal fit in denim. She helps customers narrow down their selection.
“When women come into the store, they want jeans that fit them well. They’re so used to going into stores (where) they’re taking everything in on their own, spending a lot of time in the fitting room and coming out with nothing, feeling discouraged because they don’t find anything that fits them,” Albert said.
Despite the state of economy, McCall says his business has fared well during the recession. He was able to hire employees and has experienced growth.
“I’m proud that we started our brand during the recession and as far as our books, we didn’t miss a beat,” McCall added.
According to McCall, the brand’s core market is comprised of professional women over 25.
McCall’s next step is to take the brand beyond his retail stores and into premium retailers such as Barney’s Co-op, Saks and Neiman Marcus.
McCall is tapping into a burgeoning segment in the apparel industry. According to retail research firm The NPD Group, the premium denim market has grown to about $2.2 billion of the almost $14 billion in denim sales. The NPD Group classifies premium denim as jeans priced above $50.