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Question: ‘Hiut Denim: our town is making jeans again’ Brand Case Study Analysis

28 Nov 2023,5:07 PM


Assessment Brief Details: Hiut Denim


Read the case study ‘Hiut Denim: our town is making jeans again’ and the supporting material provided in the document.


For this assignment you must write a report analysing this case study and some of the issues behind it.


You should analyse the Hiut brand in the context of the marketplace. What are the core values of the Hiut brand and how has it used these to differentiate itself in the marketplace? How does the brand position itself and who is the core target market? How has the brand used psychographics and content marketing to inspire a loyal following among its consumers? How has it used social media in a unique and interesting way, and what lessons could other brands learn?


The application of relevant academic theories and models should be a key component of your

assignment. You will be assessed on your critical analysis and sustained argument, the extent to which you draw on relevant academic theory and secondary data to support your viewpoint, and your ability to produce a well-written and researched report.


All images should be directly relevant to your text. Conclusions and recommendations are included within the 3000 word count, but abstract, appendices, references and the table of contents are not.


Report structure (word count included for guidance):


  • Title Page with the title of your report, relevant image if desired, your student number (NOT name), the title and code of the module (i.e. ARTD6137 GAB1), the date and your word count.
  • Table of Contents (including page numbers)
  • Introduction & Context (300-500 words)
    • Brief explanation of the aim of your report and the areas you will cover
    • Outline of relevant context, e.g. secondary data on the fashion/denim marketplace, current concerns and issues in the fashion industry, environmental issues and challenges, etc.


  • Critical evaluation (2000-2200 words)
    • A critical analysis of the Huit brand in the context of the fashion industry, based on your analysis of the information provided in the case study together with your individual research. How has Huit used psychographics and a deep understanding of its target audience to produce tightly targeted and appealing communications? What role did direct marketing play in the success of this brand?
    • How can the lessons learned from this brand be extended to a wider audience? For example, why is it important for brands to have a core proposition based on ethical values and to communicate these clearly? Why is it vital for brands like Huit to understand their audience in a deep and insightful way? What lessons can other brands learn from Huit’s success?


You MUST support your opinions with reference to academic theory, particularly the areas of debate you find in academic journal articles. You should also include references to comparable campaigns and organisations. Make sure that you do not repeat the information provided in the case study and associated links, or give your own unsubstantiated opinions without referring to theory.


    • There are a number of areas of theory which are relevant here, and you must decide what to include. For example you could consider segmentation, targeting and positioning; ethical advertising; persuasion theory; branded content; direct marketing; the growing importance of environmental messages; the circular economy, etc.


  • Recommendations and Conclusion: (300-500 words)
    • You should sum up your arguments and advice for other organisations. You should not provide new evidence but sum up what has been presented in the report.




Hiut Denim. Our town is making jeans again.

A case study for 21st century brand marketing.

Founded in 2012 by husband and wife David and Claire Hieatt, Hiut Denim is a jeans company that has become a global premium denim brand, beloved of creatives and stars from Radiohead and The Arctic Monkeys, to chef René Redzepi and Meghan the Duchess of Sussex

(NB Hieatt is the family name, Hiut the brand name – both are pronounced “Hi-ut”)


Hiut Denim has built an out-sized reputation and a loyal following, not only because they are at the forefront of a new generation of responsible companies that operate with a social, ethical and sustainable ethos, but also because they were founded with a specific purpose - to get their town making jeans again.


Claire and David realised that they had a truly unique opportunity in their hometown of Cardigan, on the remote west coast of Wales. The town had been home to Dewhirst, the UK’s largest denim factory, that produced thousands of pairs of jeans every week for high street shops and brands across Europe. However in 2002 Dewhirst decided to outsource production to Morocco to cut costs, and more than 300 people were suddenly put out of work. Overnight, 10 percent of the population of Cardigan lost their jobs and the factory stood empty. 


As David Hieatt says, there was no better place to start a new denim company than Cardigan because the town was full of expert ‘grandmaster’ seamstresses and pattern-cutters ready and willing to start making jeans again.  David and Claire started their company with a unique purpose: to give jobs back to their fellow townspeople.


Starting in 2011 with virtually no budget, using only digital tools, social media, and very smart strategic marketing, they’ve become widely recognised as masters of brand-building and storytelling.  As one of the first brands to develop and perfect content marketing, Hiut have become masters at communicating the right thing, to the right people, in the right way.


Brands with a Purpose Do Better and Matter More.

David Hieatt used two key principles as foundations for the Hiut brand: people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it, and the person who tells the best stories wins. 


The most important brands in the world make us feel something. They do that because they have something they want to change. And as customers, we want to be part of that change. These companies have a reason to exist over and above making a profit: they have a Purpose.


Yes, we love the product they make. But the thing we love most about them is the change they are making. Purpose is an incredibly powerful thing. It provides the strength to fight the impossible. It tells your story, it builds your teams, and it defines your culture!” Do Purpose, David Hieatt.


Getting three hundred people their jobs back wasn’t just a commercial challenge, it was a mission that resonated with British people who, for decades, had watched factories close and manufacturing jobs disappear in nearly every major town in the country.  In Wales this was felt even more acutely, with whole regions devastated by the closures of coal mines and steel mills.  “We don’t make anything in this country anymore” was a common lament.


So Hiut Denim’s purpose was very easy to understand, and it immediately differentiated them from every one of the potential competitors. If you bought a pair of Hiut jeans, you’d be helping someone to get back a job that they loved, and they needed.  Hiut denim were makers, and they were champions for other makers.


Makers & Mavericks

“Jeans are the uniform of the artist and the rocker, the designer, and the craftswoman. The makers and the mavericks.”


As a former advertising strategist, David Hieatt is an expert in using psychographics to understand the kind of people he needed to reach to sell his premium denim. The Makers and Mavericks definition was a useful shorthand, not just as target demographic, but also for the potential customers to self-identify as a Hiut tribe-member. 


The kind of people who would be fans were the mavericks and the makers. Their first, most important, fans would be successful directors, designers, musicians, writers, artists, craftspeople, and of course advertising professionals.  People who could afford high-end denim, but to whom a great story and a mission with real integrity mattered more than anything.


Scrapbook Chronicles

“For me, the newsletter is the most important tool I have in building a global denim brand. Second only to the sewing machine.” David Hieatt.


To become a global phenomenon Hiut embraced the online networks that in 2011 were just getting started. Hiut’s combination of striking photography and punchy copywriting were perfect for Instagram and Twitter – both of which were in their infancy – but Mailchimp was David’s most important tool.  The email ‘newsletter’ allowed Hiut to send their stories directly to their target audience, bypassing the need for traditional advertising or media coverage.


Hiut’s success was not only because they regularly launched ‘maverick’ ideas that appealed to their fans (no wash club / breakers club / history tag / who made your Hiuts?), but also because their email newsletters were full of the kind of second-hand content their fans loved too. David Hieatt was one of the first and most formative practitioners of ‘content marketing’ by using the principle of ‘I saw this cool thing and thought you’d like it too.’ 


Since childhood, David had filled scrapbooks with cuttings from magazines, newspapers, and brochures of text, images and ideas that caught his eye.  When he started working for Saatchi & Saatchi as a planner he turned this scrapbooking into a professional practice, gathering inspiration and motivation to use in his clients' campaigns.


Hiut’s weekly Mailchimp messages quickly became highly valued dispatches of the zeitgeist. The emails always featured a sales message first and last, but also numerous links to films and articles and stories that perfectly matched his target audience’s passions. 


‘The Scrapbook Chronicles’ became essential reading for anyone in the creative industries and more importantly, gave the readers interesting things to share on their own social networks. In the early 2010s tagging brands on your social media posts was unheard of, and Hiut were one of the first to encourage and benefit from the increased amplification.  


Their newsletter is still sent out every week, and is still their most effective marketing tool ensuring that their regular ‘short runs’ of off-beat and rare denims sell-out in a few days, and that their core ranges continue to sell in ever-increasing volumes. 


Hiut Denim is now just over ten years old and thanks to consistent and innovative brand marketing (and a helping hand from a Duchess), employs over fifty people in Cardigan, and has moved into the old Dewhirst factory.


Their town is making jeans again.



Links to further reading and watching:

Hiut - our story

Scrapbook Chronicles

David Hieatt’s first Do Lecture

Sol Beer | Local Heroes #8 Hiut Denim

Cultural Engineer Profile -- David Hieatt (do lectures)

How to create incredible email campaigns - The marketing Meetup with David Hieatt.

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