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L.A. jeans maker J Brand gets backing from talent agency CAA

COMPANY TOWN

Star Avenue Capital, part of a partnership that includes entertainment powerhouse Creative Artists Agency, has taken a majority stake in the 5-year-old premium denim label.

February 06, 2010|By Adam Tschorn
  • J Brand hopes to use its relationship with Creative Artists Agency in marketing and events, says CEO Jeff Rudes. Above, a model in J Brand's summer 2010 advertising campaign.
J Brand hopes to use its relationship with Creative Artists Agency in marketing… (Terry Richardson / J Brand )

Fashion's symbiotic relationship with the entertainment industry came into a little clearer focus this week with the announcement that Star Avenue Capital had acquired a majority interest in Los Angeles jeans maker J Brand.

Star, based in Century City, is part of a partnership that includes New York private equity firm Irving Place Capital and Century City talent agency powerhouse Creative Artists Agency.

This is the first deal for Star, which was founded last year.

Star will be able to provide resources to help the 5-year-old denim company grow.

Does that mean we're going to start seeing J Brand jeans adorning the backsides of CAA's famous clientele -- which includes Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and David Beckham -- or popping up in affiliated film and TV projects ("Sisterhood of the Traveling Premium Pants," perhaps)?

The answer is, kind of.

"Sure, [CAA] will do all the logical product placement where it makes sense," Star Avenue Capital's managing director, Mark Genender, said. "But the key thing is that premium denim responds well to media, and this is all about media activation; CAA has multiple ways [to do that]."

"Media activation" is basically a euphemism for "building buzz," and Genender said that using social media, generating content and staging events are all ways to push a brand out into popular culture.

That last one, says J Brand co-founder and Chief Executive Jeff Rudes, is the biggest benefit the deal brings for the premium denim label.

"We don't have any shortage of celebrity clientele," Rudes said. "For me, the real value of [the CAA relationship] is in marketing and events."

Rudes cited as a somewhat vague example an event he has planned for London Fashion Week, which starts Feb. 19. "I can't disclose what it is right now," he said. "But it's going to be fashion-industry news, and we'll be able to use CAA's London office -- and all the resources they have in place -- to take this thing to another level."

adam.tschorn@ latimes.com

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