True Religion was founded in 2002 by industry veteran Jeffrey Lubell. The founder, chairman and chief executive officer built the brand based on the principles of quality, American-made authentic denim with timeless appeal and a vintage aesthetic. The brand offers a wide range of styles in nearly every category and embraces the motto: “It’s all about the fit.” True Religion clothing is made for and by people who don’t follow trends, they set them.
The story of how True Religion came to be is a uniquely American tale. As a teenager growing up in New York, Lubell would bleach bell-bottoms and embellish his favorite pairs of jeans with leather and denim patches when they became ripped and worn. He also drew album covers on jackets and added hand-embroidered finishes. “This is where my denim journey began,” he says.
Lubell bet everything on his vision as a designer and entrepreneur. This marked a new era for the innovator, who started True Religion at the sewing machine. He established trendsetting elements such as thicker threads in a multitude of colors, lock seams and customization of oversized hardware in a variety of novelty styles for both men and women. As for the name? “There’s only one real religion and that’s people,” says Lubell. “And all the people in the world wear jeans. Our emphasis is on fit, quality and style and the inspiration to make men and women look and feel good in their jeans.”
Lubell’s faith in his new company was tested early on. He determinedly won over a skeptical buyer to have his first order placed at an L.A.-based specialty store. He also gifted pairs to the sales staff, knowing that his now signature creations looked better on a body than on a shelf. The remaining pairs sold out within two days, and True Religion had found its believers.
Having launched with denim offerings for both men and women, it was the undeniable great fit, style and comfort that eventually won over the population. The jeans were unique and allowed enthusiasts to express their individuality. The “Joey” jean became (and still is) the cult favorite across both categories with its twisted asymmetrical seams, colorful reinforced stitching and oversized low flap pockets. It was an instant favorite for everyone from fashionable stay-at-home moms to uber-celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Jessica Simpson, Megan Fox, Kate Hudson and Jennifer Lopez as well as a myriad of stylish male stars.
The company went global from its inception, selling at the best specialty stores in Asia and expanding into Europe. Following the success in the men and women’s divisions, the brand expanded to include well-made, stylish jeans for children and toddlers and then followed suit with knit, woven and denim-related sportswear. Since then True Religion has continued to lead the premium denim market with global expansion that has enabled it to be the over $400 million company it is today.
What once began as a determined man with a dream (and a van full of jeans) has now evolved into a full lifestyle brand with a range of denim offerings for men, women and children, plus knit and woven sportswear, accessories and fragrance. “True Religion is my dream, my passion and my love affair with denim,” explains Lubell. “You can’t be everything to everyone, and so I focused on what I was best at: making quality, American-made denim.”
True Religion is currently sold at 125 standalone stores worldwide and is distributed to 50 countries on six continents. The company went public in 2003 and is listed on the NASDAQ.