Record-setting smash hit 'Old Town Road' has rejuvenated Wrangler jeans, CEO says

AP Images / Scott Roth
  • Lil Nas X, the artist behind the chart-topping song “Old Town Road,” has breathed much-needed life into the Wrangler jeans brand.
  • The singer mentions Wrangler in his hit song, which has held the top spot on the Billboard 100 chart for a record-shattering 18 weeks and counting.
  • The CEO of Kontoor Brands, the parent company of Wrangler, told Kim Bhasin of Bloomberg the endorsement is making Wrangler more popular with a wider audience.
  • Watch Kontoor Brands trade live.

“Wrangler on my booty.” Those four words are helping a struggling jean brand make a comeback.

They’re from Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” a crossover smash hit that’s been ranked number one on the Billboard Top 100 chart for a record-setting 18 weeks and counting.

As the up-and-coming artists rises to cultural stardom, his reference to Wrangler is helping the brand through a transition period.

Scott Baxter, the chief executive officer of Kontoor Brands – Wrangler’s parent company – told Kim Bhasin at Bloomberg that the endorsement is helping push Wrangler jeans in a new direction.

“We knew nothing about it, and then it just took off from there,” he said in interview with Bloomberg. “It’s introduced Wrangler to a more diverse group of folks and that’s where we want to be as a brand.”

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In the past, Wrangler’s primary brand ambassadors have been former NFL quarterback Brett Favre and famed NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt Jr. The brand decided to branch out after seeing the success of “Old Town Road,” and partner directly with the song’s creator.

Wrangler ran a limited-edition collaboration with Lil Nas X that included graphic tees, jean jackets with “Old Town Road” printed on it, and cowboy-cut slim-fit jeans. Baxter said shoppers couldn’t get enough of the product line.

“Everytime we put more product online, it’s sold out immediately,” Baxter told Bloomberg.

According to Bloomberg, Wrangler plans to roll out a new marketing campaign sometime in the next few weeks to continuing spreading the brand’s reach to a wider audience.

Kontoor Brands reported its first earnings report as a standalone company on Thursday after being spun out from apparel conglomerate VF Corporation in May.

While Kontoor’s sales as a whole decreased 8% in the second quarter to $US610 million, the company expects revenue to accelerate in the second half of the year. One of Kontoor’s largest customers went into bankruptcy, which had a downward impact on sales.

Global revenue for Wrangler dropped by 8% as well, but excluding the customer bankruptcy, sales increased by 2% the company said.

Kontoor reaffirmed its guidance for the year, and still expects to hit $US2.5 billion in revenue for 2019.

Shares of Kontoor are down roughly 16% year-to-date.

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