We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Rhys Davies, the Sales Director of one of the best known Japanese raw denim companies, EVISU.
Through our conversation, Davies shed some light on his background, how EVISU deals counterfeit products, their design process, and what some of their future plans entail.
Rawr Denim: Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background, and how you became a part of EVISU and the denim world.
Rhys Davies: I came to be a part of EVISU after simply always being in the denim trade; specifically for Italian companies. I worked for Replay for a couple of years, then for 7 years as UK Sales Manager for Diesel. The opportunity with EVISU came up, which was too good to turn down. It is one of the most iconic denim brands in the market place.
RD: Although EVISU has experienced amazing success since its inception over 20 years ago, it’s also had to deal with its fair share of headaches, including fake and counterfeit products. As this is such a rampant and growing problem in the menswear – and denim – industry, does your company have any plans to tackle these issues and attack the counterfeit market?
Davies: When it comes to counterfeit products, it’s something that every brand has suffered from. There’s always a need to address this issue and we’re constantly employing people to tackle this problem head on and find its true source.
However, while it’s a big concern, it’s not something we’re able to completely focus upon. We try to circumvent this problem by concentrating on proper distribution with authentic and exceptional products. As a result, customers and partners alike can easily determine EVISU products versus counterfeit, and feel the difference in quality.
RD: EVISU has executed several very interesting collaborations over the past 10 years; more recently with Edison Chen and Kevin Poon’s, CLOT. After the EVISU x CLOT Limited Edition Tribal Washed Jeans collaboration, are you preparing another collaboration that involves raw denim? Not involving raw denim?
Davies: We’ve got a quite few collaborations in the pipeline. I can’t tell you about them – they’re all very top secret, all very exciting, really kind of a groundbreaking movement.
RD: Approximately when we can expect to see them released?
Davies: Spring/Summer 2014 and Fall/Winter 2014. We are aiming for two projects minimum during these periods.
RD: In terms of EVISU’s denim construction and design, what details do you believe are core to your values and differentiates your collections from all others?
Davies: We do have denim rules on every single pair of jeans on our actual line. We still stick to the hidden back rivets, over stitch finishing, quality and strength, and the denim and selvedge is always from the highest possible quality. The fit, design, denim, and details are always held to same high standard.
RD: For the Spring/Summer 2013 collection, EVISU’s inspiration was deeply rooted in Americana 50′s culture, specifically Hot-Rod and Rockabilly. What’s the creative process for selecting these concepts as design ideation?
Davies: The inspiration for this season’s collections is looking back to the core heritage of the brand. It’s about going back to fabrication, the way it washes, the details and presenting the brand in a more interesting way. Since our company has such an indigo-based history, we wanted to be true to the denim heritage of the brand and what we’ve been doing.
RD: How do creative exchanges, and the overall relationship, work between different divisions and offices; such as EVISU US and EVISU Asia Pacific?
Davies: It’s quite an easy transition for what we do between the Asian market and the US market. There are certain cultural differences, but on the whole the brand is the brand. There’s about a 80% overlap in product offerings, but as certain items are a better fit in the Asian or US market, we carve out 20% for different offerings on either end. Overall though, the core of EVISU works across all areas, so we hold much more a global focus and strive to move in one uniform direction.
RD: What’s in the pipeline for EVISU retail-wise in Europe? Can we expect to see a greater presence on the shelves of prominent denim boutiques?
Davies: In terms of distribution, the plans for Europe is re-establishing its presence on the top shelfs continent-wide; from boutique denim shops to department stores. We understand with the quality and aesthetic of our product, it needs to be sold within the right environment. Thus, though we are initially focusing on Dutch and German partners, we’re ultimately looking for quality, rather than mass market, distribution.
RD: Similarly, after your successful flagship store launch in London, will we see new stores in Berlin, Amsterdam or other European/non-European cities?
Davies: As we’ve had success with these brick and mortar, brand-focused stores across Asia, we chose decided to transfer this over to the new backstreet store in London. We will be looking at two or three new stores in the UK during mid next year and we are also looking for new retailers within Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam.
RD: Where do you see EVISU in 2, 5, and 10 years from now?
Davies: Concerning our future, we are not in any mad rush and it’s about establishing the right distribution with the right quality accounts (i.e. stores). The clothing itself will of course mature and adapt to the path needed, but the plan is to ensure that our brand maintains its integrity, wearability and desirability.
Our beliefs it that this can only be achieved by constantly producing quality products season after season. We are looking to expand within the next two or three years through Europe, re-establish ourselves in North America, then look to South America as a new opportunity. Within the next five years we are striving to have most of the globe covered.