Inside Madewell’s 24-day denim campaign

To drive traffic without defaulting to discounting prices, J.Crew-owned brand Madewell is generating buzz by releasing a new denim product every day for the next 24 days.

Through its “Denim Every Day” campaign, starting July 26, Madewell will release a new denim product every day through August 18. Some releases are collaborations with outside brands, like a pair of denim Vans slip ons, a denim jumpsuit designed in partnership with Gwyneth Paltrow’s line Goop, and a denim-upholstered chair by ABC Carpet & Home. Other releases include new Madewell products, like the brand’s first pair of maternity jeans, relaunched items that had previously been discontinued, and a customizable jean jacket. Madewell will also offer services like gift cards for recycling denim and monogramming.

“The program gave the team and me a chance to showcase how we can reimagine denim by working with partners on ways to grow our denim offerings,” said Joyce Lee, Madewell’s head of design. “[We] will be unveiling the pieces we are most excited about, bringing back sold out favorites, creating exclusive collaborations and surprising customers with one-day only denim services.”

The goal of the 24-day campaign is to draw daily attention and traffic to Madewell. The brand, which mixes classic items like denim and oxfords with a touch of youth-minded edge, has been carrying the weight of parent company J.Crew on its shoulders. In the company’s first quarter earnings in 2016, Madewell sales were up 17 percent, to $72.5 million, as J.Crew’s slipped another 6 percent, to $480.5 million. As the small but mighty Madewell continues to grow, the company is looking at buzzworthy strategies that make noise without slashing prices, a harmful cycle that has put J.Crew and contemporaries Banana Republic and Ann Taylor on weak footing.

Instead of putting items on sale, Madewell is hoping limited-release products will drive attention and transactions. A few of the campaign releases are limited, like jean jackets embroidered by Ft. Lonesome, with 15 in availability, selling for $395. Five denim-upholstered chairs designed by ABC Carpet & Home will be sold for $1,395. Other releases, though, like Madewell’s new jeans, will remain available on the site and in stores as part of the usual fall collection.

“In a world where we’re getting more accustomed to messages that can go away, that makes it more special. It’s going to get someone to visit and spend money,” said Larry Vincent, chief branding officer at United Talent Agency. “It appeals very much to people because they feel like they’re getting something more for their money.”

To drive traffic, Madewell is targeting its social followers with the Denim Every Day launch. Each daily drop will be announced on its social accounts first, including the limited-edition releases. Lee said that the program is meant to keep Madewell “fresh and top of mind, and to encourage customers to come back.”

The brand has previously looked to its social followers first when releasing new products, like its past collaborations with Daryl K and Alexa Chung. Instagram followers were able to shop the collection before it became available to the public. Other companies like Michael Kors and Everlane are looking to Instagram as a place to engage interested customers with early launches and promotions as well.

“That’s the first place to go — it’s the most powerful place to drive interest and engagement,” said Vincent. “Leveraging the channel you’ve established to do something besides hawking a product leads to actual discovery and sharing.”

Still, since the campaign is stretching over a 24-day period, Vincent added that Madewell will have to maintain momentum for a long time.

“Twenty-four days is a long time to keep people engaged and sustain the brand above a lot of noise,” he said. “You have to find ways to up the excitement for essentially four weeks.”

Madewell is saving its Goop launch for last. On August 18, it will release the Madewell x Goop Denim Jumpsuit, ending the Denim Every Day campaign.

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