In June 2015 True Religion has promoted John Ermatinger as new chief executive officer. Before joining the denim enterprise he served as CEO of Tommy Hilfiger and Gap (Asia Pacific) and was president of Levi Strauss America. SI met the jeans veteran at True Religion Brand Jeans Germany GmbH in Düsseldorf. Interview by Lisa Dartmann

In June you are have been appointed CEO of True Religion. What`s the attraction of the new task and your first impression?
I am a jeans veteran and started in the jeans business long time ago at Levi´s and now I come back to the jeans business and what I see is that True Religion is an icon brand that has the potential to be once again a brand of choice and to become again a premium global jeans brand. True Religion has re-designed its product line and brand platform and launched collaborations with style leaders. The investor group Tower Brook´s is a terrific partner who has supported me and the company in terms of investments and they give us room to innovate the product.

What are your goals for the coming months in terms of accelerated growth of the company?
What I promised the owners and our employees is that we will get the brand to prominence and to a tremendous emphasis look, to innovation and the product itself. The second thing I promised is that we will bring back the brand to premium denim and focus on that. The third thing is paying attention to our consumer and what research we need in order to speak to our consumers.

How will you position the brand in the future?
True Religion has to become a premium jeans brand and needs to be extremely democratic in terms of the consumers. We need more appeal to denim which is really phenomenal. We have a tremendous opportunity in terms of womenswear and accessories. We have to come back to our denim roots. That´s what we also communicate in our advertising campaign “go west?”

What are the most challenging and strongest performing markets right now?
As a goal of True Religion to be a true global brand we will really focus on the US business. The future has to be the US business because it is the country where we were born. For the rest of the world we have many opportunities. I look at Asia where I spent the last 15 years and in Europe, where we focus mainly on the UK and Germany and we have the rest of the European community. We are represented in nearly 50 countries on six continents. The company operates 138 stores in the U.S and more than 30 international stores.

Can you explain your ideas for the upcoming fashion direction?
Denim is my DNA and I go back to make sure that we have all the proper fits and details. Denim is our core business and we should be the first in innovation of stretch, new finishing’s and female looks. The womenswear market is growing in stretch denim, leggings and it seems to be the new energy around the womenswear business. In the menswear business we keep on innovating. We will have a stronger collaboration with our German Joint Venture partner. I believe in the partnership. Germany is doing a very good job. I love the aesthetic styles in terms of its attention to details.

What is your opinion on flare jeans?
I believe in the comeback of flare jeans. The styles of the 60s and 70s eras with wide leg jeans and patterned shirts will have a great future.