AdAge: American Eagle Launches AE77 Premium Denim Line

By: Sydney Gold | Link to article

American Eagle Outfitters is launching a sustainable, premium denim brand, AE77, out of a newly built retail space in New York’s Sol-Io neighborhood.

A marketing campaign includes still photos and a nearly one-minute commercial that gives viewers a feel for the AE77 line, It’s a marked departure for American Eagle, which opened its first store in

Michigan in 1977 and typically caters to the young adult shopper,

“AE77 is an exciting new opportunity for AEO Inc., which leverages our leadership in jeans, capitalizes on our strong innovation in style, fit, and fabrications, and incorporates our best sustainability practices,” said Jay Schottenstein, AEO Inc.’s executive chairman and CEO.

The brand’s debut comes as some people are eager to spruce up their wardrobes with new jeans and other items after ignoring fashion for comfort during the early months of the pandemic.

The campaign is mature and sophisticated, less interested in explaining the product than American Eagle might typically be. It suggests a clear departure from a teen mall brand into the world of premium design.

The debut spot has a cool look — muted hues blended with black and white. Models wear billowing jackets and slightly buttoned-up shirts and guide horses through sandbanks between flashes of New York City buildings and speeding subways. Folksy rock plays as two images — a sunset and a series of buildings — glide toward the center of the screen. White and black text flashes over them: “Opposites Attract.” The vignettes move both slowly and quickly, cycling between country and cityscape.

“At the very highest level, we were trying to convey that something can be beautiful and responsible at the same time,” said Trey Laird, creative director on the project.

Chad Kessler, president of AE Premium Brands, explains that AE77 is targeting a new customer distinct from the American Eagle or Aerie shopper. AE77 is designed for shoppers in their “mid-20s to mid-40s, post-college. It’s part of where we get our inspiration for being a brand inspired by New York,” says Kessler. “A little more discerning customer looking to curate sort of classic product, you know, over the seasons and really build just a great closet.”

Laird sees the brand reaching beyond demographics, looking instead to “people that love jeans. Anybody that’s got that emotional tug, they’re a potential customer.”

AE77 hopes to emphasize quality in production and design, with a price tag to match. The jeans retail between $168 and $188, roughly $100 more than most jeans currently sold at American Eagle.

“It’s definitely an elevated product that’s beautifully made with really high quality,” said Laird.

The brand touts sustainable techniques like the use of more natural chemicals, water requirements for factories producing its denim, and sustainable fabrics with a focus on quality and long-lasting wear. AE77 also pledged 1% of the brand’s annual sales to the non-profit organization 1% For the Planet.

“One of the things that was very important for us from the beginning is that everything we make has an element of sustainability,” says Kessler.

The line includes ninejean styles, as well as dresses and tops incorporating elements of recycled cashmere, made in LA knits, Japanese flannel shirts, and vintage fleece. The entire line ranges in price from $25 to $248.

The initial AE77 store, designed by Stefan Beckman Studio, comes before the items will be sold online starting October 15. A second store is set to open by the end of 2021.

The choice to begin in the real world before venturing online was deliberate. “Physical stores are such a great way for customers to interact with the brand, but also for a brand to interact with customers,” says Kessler. “We wanted to introduce this product that is truly premium and made with great craftsmanship and such attention to detail. We wanted people to be able to experience that in person.”