Vital Stats: Jeffrey Lubell, 50, of True Religion Brand Jeans in Los Angeles
Company: Designer and manufacturer of pre-mium jeans and related sportswear
2006 projected sales: $148 million to $150 million
Trendsetters: "Everyone wears jeans," says Lubell. "It's the one true religion." From the start, Lubell and his wife, Kymberly Gold-Lubell, 40, envisioned a company that made superior jeans with the kind of fit and details usually found in couture fashion. "We wanted to create a luxury apparel brand in denim," says Lubell. "We saw it as the next evolution of jeans."
Cutting-Edge Couture: True Religion had a slow start in 2002, prompting Lubell to take a marketing risk and give away his product. He first offered the jeans to sales associates at a trendy boutique. The boutique owner reluctantly bought 24 pairs, but they didn't start selling until the staff started wearing their free pairs-the jeans sold out in three days. That's when Lubell took to the streets.
Fashion Forward: Lubell would hand his business card to unsuspecting people on the streets of Los Angeles and ask them to e-mail their pant size for a free pair of jeans. The responses weren't always gracious, but no one refused Lubell's offer. Today, his products are available online and at boutiques and department stores worldwide. Countless celebs scoop them up for as much as $460 a pair.
Perfect Fit: "The best ad we have is for people to see how the jeans actually look on the body," says Lubell. And the word-of-mouth advertising is still going strong. "An ad in a magazine gets thrown away after a while, but you wear a great pair of jeans forever."