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What hugs your curves just right, can be found at any mall and costs less than $30? Paris Blues jeans, of course! Complete with colorful displays and the latest washes and cuts, Paris Blues has been rockin' the department stores and dominating the boutiques for the past 30 years. What started with one stylish South American immigrant and $3,000 of savings has turned into a multimillion dollar industry that sells everything from micro-minis to perfume.
Jose Quant grew up among dazzling designs and enticing fabrics in his home country of Nicaragua, where his parents owned a fashion import business. After moving to Los Angeles and saving a $3,000 investment, he and his wife, Carolyn, started Paris Blues in 1981, focusing specifically on pedal pusher designs. Operations were originally based out of a small downtown office building. By 1987 Paris Blues was able to capitalize on its pedal pusher success and expand to include denim jeans, shorts, skirts and dresses.
In Every Mall
Midpriced juniors denim brands became hot commodities during the '90s. Paris Blues took up real estate in such department stores as Macy's and Nordstrom along with other brands geared toward teen girls, such as Mudd and LEI. Catalog sales became vital to the Paris Blues distribution plan and denim-clad models graced the pages of Alloy and Delia's. As Delia's expanded to include a chain of mall boutiques, other trendy stores began carrying Paris Blues, including the well-saturated teen mecca known as Wet Seal. By the turn of the millennium, Paris Blues representatives boasted that their products graced every mall in the U.S.
To accommodate increasing demand, production expanded to an 800,000-square-foot facility, employing 130 staff members and 40 contractors by 1997. In 2003, Paris Blues released sales figures of more than $100 million per year. It became known in the fashion industry as one of the "big three" juniors denim brands, and was praised along with Mudd and LEI for making teen jeans a lucrative industry. Department store markdowns made it difficult to implement creative styles while maintaining a high profit margin, so Quant spearheaded the creation of several new brands, including two high-end collections, Triple Q and Creme Royale.
Attracting New Generations
As the consumers who originally donned Paris Blues outgrew junior denim, the company underwent a revitalization to compete with new brands and grow its fan base. It expanded to include a children's line, plus sizes and knit tops. Along with other teen denim brands such as Mudd and Bongo, Paris Blues limited advertising to word of mouth, online presence and enticing store displays. The marketing strategy behind this decision was a theory that Generation Y preferred indirect advertising through rich media such as in-store events and interactive websites. In 2009, Paris Blues partnered with Stone America to produce accessories, beauty products, jewelry and home products that appeal to its teenage target market.