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As Joe Fresh prepares to launch in 683 stores nationally via JCPenney this spring, the Canadian brand is thinking hard about it's American identity. "Most international brands, it takes them a very long time to get a foothold in America," founder Joe Mimran told us in an interview. "It's very difficult to just buy the love from the consumer. You can't do it here."
Mimran says that's because American shoppers are used to having everything available to them. "I think it's a market that's always been spoiled by great local retailers and great American brands, but also incredible international brand that have always tried to penetrate this market. So I think Americans, and New Yorkers in particular, are skeptical when you first come in. I think you gotta prove yourself, they gotta believe you're for real. It takes a bit of time to do that."
So in an arguably saturated fast-fashion market, how does Joe Fresh plan to prove itself? By distancing the brand from trend-driven, disposable commerce. "Fast fashion is where you take the trends from the runway and you interpret them religiously. We like to take trends and interpret them, put our spin on them, and have our voice to it, which is a different branding idea." Mimran says.
Mimran wants American customers to see Joe Fresh as a brand with a commitment to integrity and quality, he told us. "I want them to understand the quality that we put into our product. We work so hard on fit, quality, integrity of design, point of view. I'd love them to understand us more, and to really explore us more, and to understand what our personality is about. We come from a real, honest position."
The elephant in the showroom, of course, is the notably low pricing. Currently, the Joe Fresh marketing site (the brand doesn't yet have e-commerce) touts $19 sweaters, $24 button-ups, and sequined skirts for $29. Those prices and products are comparable to what you can find at brands like H&M, Uniqlo, and Forever 21 this season, making the comparison to the fast-fashion behemoths hard to avoid.
Nonetheless, Mimran insists that Joe Fresh is committed to style that has longevity. "When you look at our clothes, we believe in fashion, but we never want to victimize our core consumer because we don't think fashion should victimize. There's an elegance and a level of style that you bring to the trends that don't necessarily make you a slave to fashion, but make you crave it in a very different way."
· Joe Fresh Joins the JCPenney Shop-in-Shop Lineup [Racked]
· Confirmed: Joe Fresh To Launch E-Commerce via JCPenney [Racked]