Chances are if you’re an HSN devotee, you already know who Diane Gilman is. She’s the superstar designer behind DG2, a denim brand that rakes in $150 million every year. Not only is she HSN’s longest-running fashion personality, but she’s also second best-selling vendor across all categories. She’s sold over 7 million jeans since her debut 20 years ago!
So how did she do it? And how does she keep on doing it? We sat down with the Jean Queen herself.
SHEfinds: You’re an HSN superstar! How did your jeans become so popular?
Diane Gilman: My jeans became instantly popular because of the design philosophy behind them. “The perfect jean for the not-so-perfect woman’ truly resonated with our HSN audience. I believe the other key to instant success was thinking through the mind of the ‘targeted’ customer and being that customer myself!
SF: There are so many denim options on the market–what sets yours apart?
DG: DG2 sets itself apart from the rest of the denim market as a ‘solution driven’ product…we target what I call ‘The Forgotten Woman (in fashion)’… that customer who is 35 years old and over, who has had a couple of kids, or not, and whose body no longer fits junior and contemporary jean brands. We promise a new experience in denim fit and comfort by the way we have our own unique set of measurements… where other brands turn their back on the Baby Boomer, we embrace her!
SF: What’s the one denim cut/silhouette that looks good on every woman, no matter her age or shape?
DG: Our bootcut is consistently applauded by the HSN viewer as their #1 favorite. It is the most universal, tailored and wearable of all silhouettes… we carefully craft it to flatter any and every body-type. Our customer doesn’t like showy dressing, she loves practical day-in, day-out dressing!
SF: What’s the best feedback you get from women who try your jeans?
DG: The beauty of presenting your designs on Television is that the feedback is instantaneous… either from the spontaneous customer call-ins or the chat boards. THAT call-in conversation with viewers is spontaneous, unrehearsed and always from the heart. They want you to know their needs, their experience wearing DG2 and their ideas for future product. That just might be the part of every show I love most, it is truly priceless!
The consistent feedback we get is that buying jeans is a highly emotional purchase and that our jeans have changed their lives…That they have given women back a sense of their own beauty and self-esteem, they have created a connection again to their youth, and that they have gotten huge approval from the males in their life. I think the most touching and illustrative bit of feedback a customer gave was when she called in and said “Thank you for giving ME back to me.” I got so choked up on-air because I knew exactly what she meant and her words touched me so deeply!
SF: You’ve been doing denim for so long – how do you stay at the top of your game?
DG: Honestly, I stay on top of my game because I have a deep and abiding love for design. I AM the HSN customer, so I am always wanting the latest and greatest… it is so much fun to interpret forward denim fashion for my customers’ everyday life and then have the privilege to go on-air and present it! That adrenaline rush from witnessing something you designed and believed in sell out within a matter of minutes, to know you hit upon just what your viewer was dreaming about…that satisfaction keeps me at the top of my game!
SF: What made you decide to focus on denim?
DG: I always wanted to design a denim collection for HSN… my roots are in denim. In the late 60s through the 70s I designed, hand painted, hand ripped, embellished, deconstructed and reconstructed denim for rock royalty…Sonny & Cher, Janis Joplin, Hendrix, Grace Slick Sylvester, Deep Purple…it remains some of my fondest design moments as I look back to the beginning of my career and sing my generation truly gave birth to fashion denim, it was ‘in my blood’ to begin designing denim again, for them, decades later. This has definitely been the most fun part of my career.
SF: What’s your everyday uniform? Jeans or not?
DG: I do have a uniform, which always works and takes very little effort to look ‘cool girl’ and it is all based on wearing my DG2 jeans as the foundational bottom…usually my Skinniest Skinnies, but now I occasionally wear my Flares. Then I add a simple tee shirt, a layering piece such as a crisp tailored blazer (usually menswear – they are simply made better) for day and a soft feminine blouse for evening. Truthfully, since I starting my denim brand, DG2, I have worn my jeans every day of my life. I like to say I ‘test drive’ new fabrics and silhouettes and if I wind up obsessed by them then I know my customer is going to love them too!
SF: What’s next for your brand?
DG: The future of DG2 lies in technology evolved fabrics, fabrics with such an incredible level of stretch, recover and luxury hand-feel, that they basically change the nature and experience of wearing denim. My goal is to bring the future of denim to the present at prices that give every woman the opportunity to share the magic!
Wanna put Diane’s wildly popular jeans to the test for yourself? Head over to HSN.com to buy a pair–of four!