Dig In Magazine Interview with JED Clothing
20 Nov, 2012
Learn More About JED Clothing at: www.JedClothing.com
JED Clothing is a brand whose roots began in 1985 and had a positive 10-year run. In 2006, after attending the fashion trade show, The Magic Show, owner Mark Lowenthal, realized that there was a “whole generation [who] had never owned a pullover sweater, much less a cardigan!” He, then, decided to relaunch the brand. When asked about JED’s marketing strategy, a brand that is worn by many high profile celebrities and professional athletes, Sports and Entertainment Marketing Director, Jon Nielsen, states that he aims to “breakdown the stereotype of sweaters only being a Fall/Holiday Season garment. JED can be worn all year, especially in the warmer climates of California, Florida, Texas and Hawai’i.” Nielsen has “spread JED across the board with a nice mix of talent” with television stars like "Turtle from HBO’s show ‘Entourage’, NFL players like Green Bay Packers TE Jermichael Finley, Indianapolis Colts WR Austin Collie, [and] New Orleans Saints FB JED Collins." Others that sport JED Clothing are "NBA players like Oklahoma City Thunder F Kevin Durant, G Russell Westbrook and NY Knicks F Laundry Fields…[as well as] Comedians Kevin Hart, Wayne Brady, Tracy Morgan, Tony Rock, Affion Crocket and Joey Guila." Further, "RnB Icons Boyz II Men…[such as] group member Shawn Stockman wears JED on NBC’s ‘The Singoff’." JED sells "crew-neck, V-neck and cardigan sweaterknits to young guys; hipsters, preppies, sneakerheads, athletes, surf/skate, business executives and people who generally enjoy clothes." JED Clothing will be showcasing their new designs at the fashion trade show, MAGIC, from August 20-23, 2012 in Las Vegas, NV. Read on.
Dig In Magazine: Mark, what is your background in fashion & how did the idea to create JED come about?
Mark Lowenthal: I have pretty much been in the fashion industry since l’ve been working. Initially I thought I wanted to be a coach after getting a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education at the University of Oklahoma. But before I even got started I strangely fell into a job opportunity in the New York garment industry selling menswear. After two years in New York, I was promoted and transferred to run the men’s division of that same company in Los Angeles, California.
After three years working “in house” and achieving success for that company, I decided to go independent and start my own sales agency where I could sell what I wanted to sell as opposed to what I had to sell. In short
time, however, I realized I had more to offer than promoting another company’s vision. That is when I decided the timing was right for me to really do my own thing. I had always experienced great working
relationships with buyers, and felt confident I could create a product they would respond to as fresh and exciting. It was my choice even back then to focus on a men’s sweater collection as opposed to a collection concept of varied items based on a “mix and match” model. The results proved my instincts correct–our JED Sweaters were versatile and original, and the retailers loved them, as did the consumer.
DIM: I understand that originally the clothing company was started in 1985 and ran until 1994, what made you decide to relaunch the brand? And how is the brand different today?
ML: I closed our operation in 1994 because the retail environment was changing with consolidations and mergers. At the same time, big changes were occurring in the banking/factoring segment of the industry. There
became less retailers to work with, and the credit of those retailers was being tightened by the financial institutions.
JED had experienced a nice ten-year business run, and I felt the timing was right to get out. In this business, the popularity of items can be cyclical, and although sweaters enjoyed a strong period of sales in the 80′s and 90′s, it became clear to me the category was becoming flat.
I decided to relaunch the brand after a friend persuaded me to go to the Magic Show in 2006. I hadn’t attended a trade show in over 10 years at that point. At the show, I saw just a few sweater companies, but the few that I
did see made me realize that if done properly, I could make a strong comeback. It occurred to me at that moment a whole generation had never owned a pullover sweater, much less a cardigan! The key was to update the
product, using all cotton yarns and lighter gauge knitting. I decided to call the product the JED sweaterknit, functioning less as an seasonal garment worn to keep warm, and more as a lifestyle piece to be worn yearround.
DIM: Where is JED based?
ML: Our corporate showroom and distribution warehouse is located in Van
DIM: Jon, what is your role at JED?
Jon Nielsen: I am the Sports and Entertainment Marketing Director.
DIM: How did you get involved with JED?
JN: I have known Mark for several years. We were introduced by one of my Industry friends Michael Jenkins. I was a Big Fan of JED before I came on board.
DIM: Mark, what types of clothing do you sell and who is your target market?
ML: We sell crew-neck, V-neck and cardigan sweaterknits. Our target
market includes young guys; hipsters, preppies, sneakerheads,
athletes, surf/skate, business executives and people who generally
DIM: Generally, who are your customers? Do you sell to both men and women?
ML: The line is targeted for men, but many women enjoy it as well!
DIM: Jon, in a nutshell, what is your marketing strategy to get the JED brand out there?
JN: JED is a great brand. I am breaking down the stereotype of sweaters only being a Fall/Holiday Season garment. JED can be worn all year, especially in the warmer climates of California, Florida, Texas and Hawai’i. I have been getting great product placement on some high profile shows like HBO’s "Entourage". Turtle has been seen rocking JED the final 2 Seasons of the show. I have spread JED across the board with a nice mix of talent. NFL players like Green Bay Packers TE Jermichael Finley, Indianapolis Colts WR Austin Collie, New Orleans Saints FB JED Collins all love the brand. NBA players like Oklahoma City Thunder F Kevin Durant, G Russell Westbrook and NY Knicks F Laundry Fields rock the brand. Comedians Kevin Hart, Wayne Brady, Tracy Morgan, Tony Rock, Affion Crocket and Joey Guila have all been photographed in JED. RnB Icons Boyz II Men have worn JED on their music video with Justin Bieber for “Fa La La”, rocked JED during their live performance on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” and group member Shawn Stockman wears JED on NBC’s “The Singoff”. I am branching JED out into the Action Sports world as we speak. The brand is universal in its appeal. Sneakerheads, Surfers, Athletes and Corporate Professionals all can add JED to their wardrobe.
DIM: How would you describe the look and style of JED?
ML: Our motto is “Live Life in Color”, a testament to the JED signature color palatte.
Each hue is carefully selected to bring life and
personality to each style. Also, each piece is designed for an easy,
comfortable fit. Our goal is to make each sweater the favorite item in
the customer’s closet or drawer, to be worn any season, with slacks,
jeans or shorts. The sweaters make a great hook-up with kicks and
caps. Needless to say, our quality is top notch!
DIM: What influences or inspires the clothing line?
ML: I’m influenced by my own taste and instincts. I don’t subscribe to
color forecasts, styling forecasts or any other tools of the trade. My
color palattes are not inñuenced by seasons or marketing trends.
DIM: How many designers do you have? And what do you look for in a design?
ML: We have a small, in-house design staff. We are especially focused on
choosing the perfect color, and in multi-color sweaterknits, the right
combinations in perfect placement.
DIM: How often do you come out with new designs?
ML: I am continuously working on product development to bring to the
DIM: Jon, what do you think is the strongest aspect of the JED line of clothing and brand?
JN: JED offers something for everybody. We are not a cookie cutter brand. We set our own trends. We offer color ways that will appeal to your individual style. That is what makes JED different than other sweater brands on the marketplace. We like to “Live Life in Color”.
DIM: Do you show at fashion shows when you launch a new line? If so, where?
ML: We pick and choose the trade shows that we feel best suit JED
Clothing. We will be showing at this August 2012′s Magic Show in
Las Vegas in the S.L.A.T.E. area.
DIM: Mark, where can people find and purchase JED?
ML: The JED Clothing line can be purchased at:
www.karmaloop.com/kazbah, and at many specialty boutiques.
DIM: What can we expect from JED in the future?
ML: Expect more great sweaterknits in the future!