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MEGA JESUS-SAMA
24th November 09, 04:44 PM
THE $300 pair of designer jeans is now, courtesy of the recession, the $200 pair of designer jeans.
“It was all just a fad,” said Jeff Rudes, a founder of the hot-denim-label-du-jour J Brand Jeans and an astute observer of the suspiciously inflated prices of fashion’s most eternally reinvented staple. Like any commodity that becomes overpriced, there eventually comes a market correction. And denim’s day of reckoning was long overdue.
“The floors at most of the major stores were so overassorted that they almost looked like Loehmann’s,” Mr. Rudes said. “They were just cramming jeans onto the racks.”
The introduction of $300 jeans — perhaps even more than $1,000 coin purses and $500 plastic sunglasses — marked the moment when customers really began to question the prices they were seeing in department stores. Cotton dungarees for the price of an iPod was a stretch so extreme that retailers had to come up with a whole new term to suggest that the new jeans were different from the $100 jeans they used to sell in the 1990s.
So, early in the decade designer jeans became “premium” jeans — as in, you had to pay a premium to wear them: $340 for Acne jeans, $350 for Ksubi jeans, $359 for True Religion jeans, $395 for Notify jeans, $580 for Dior jeans and so on. Before the recession, premium denim was one of the fastest growing categories of the apparel business, and there seemed to be no limit to what customers would pay for the latest label, fit, finish, wash or whatever Paris Hilton wore.
But the denim bubble has burst, and only a handful of such extravagantly priced jeans remain at the jeans bar — labels like PRPS and 45rpm, which, in tacit acknowledgment of the decline of the premium business, are now more often referred to as “artisanal” jeans. Meanwhile, the sweet spot for designer jeans has relocated to a neighborhood just below $200, even though the styles do not look substantially different from the $300 jeans that were on the sales floors of Barneys New York and Bloomingdale’s only two years ago.
“The key price is under $200 now,” said Eric Jennings, the men’s fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue. “The superexpensive stuff is not performing as well.”
Despite all this tumult, designer denim is still one of the few bright spots of the apparel industry. Annual sales of all women’s jeans were actually up 5 percent over last year to $8.2 billion through August, though average prices were down 1 percent, according to the research firm NPD — the pricing shift is reflective of a broader reset taking place in luxury stores.
During the modern gilded age, the spiraling prices of designer clothes had more to do with driving profits than the actual design or construction of a garment. Designers found they could charge a lot for the perception of prestige. Dresses and suits and handbags were priced like cars, and consumers didn’t blink. But with jeans, it just felt more obvious that some kind of game was being played; the basic elements, after all, had not changed substantially in decades: five pockets, cotton, some rivets.
Now designers are facing pressure from stores and from their competitors to rethink prices, in many cases resulting in less expensive jeans or more styles at the lower end of each designer’s range. It has not gone unnoticed by executives behind the great denim rush of 2005 that even mainstream retailers like Gap and J. Crew have caught on to the appeal of Japanese denim, whisker treatments and fading details, and that they are now produce comparable premium-look jeans that cost around $60. Banana Republic has a new denim line coming in January.
“Charging $600 for jeans for no reason at all — those days are over,” said You Nguyen, the senior vice president of women’s merchandising and design for Levi Strauss & Company.
Diesel, the Italian jeans company that pioneered the three-figure category, used to produce only two styles at its lowest price of $150 for men, $160 for women. This season there are 10, said Renzo Rosso, the label’s founder, “because the market demanded more product at this level.”
Rock & Republic, another popular label, introduced a Recession Collection this spring with styles under $140, about $40 less than before. Ksubi, the maker of $280 skintight jeans, is now producing less expensive styles for stores in the United Kingdom and Australia. And Citizens of Humanity found it could entice retailers with a new style for $148, about 10 percent lower than its previous entry point.
“Below that, it is no longer premium,” said Gary Freedman, the company’s chief operating officer.
But that distinction seemed arbitrary before, and the broad pricing retrenchment suggests that there was nothing so premium about last year’s jeans except the profits. The retail price of most designer jeans is calculated by multiplying the wholesale cost by 2.2. A pair of jeans that costs $158 at Saks, for example, was sold to the store for $72.
While that is a typical markup for designer fashion, the actual costs of producing jeans are much lower, and so for many years it was considered a lucrative field for start-ups. In the early part of the decade, there were more than 40 start-ups. But many of those labels, once the next big things, are but memories. Remember Blue Cult? Antique Denim? Paper Denim & Cloth?
“Five years ago, it was easy to start a jeans company,” said Scott Morrison, one of the original founders of Paper Denim & Cloth in 1999 and later a founder of Earnest Sewn, who joined Evisu in May as its chief executive. “You basically have a market that is the fastest growing segment in the apparel business, and stores are overbuying because of it.”
Evisu is a good example. The brand, when it started in Japan in 1991, was so exclusive that only a few dozen pairs of jeans, priced at $600, were produced each week, each with a hand-painted seagull logo on the back pocket. But the label’s popularity soon led to a global licensing agreement to produce runway collections in Italy and increasingly baggy and flashy street-wear styles that, while generating $30 million in sales, devalued the brand to the point that no designer store would touch it.
Mr. Morrison said the label has been losing money for the last four years. His strategy is to revive Evisu by starting over, with a handful of clean, unadulterated styles that will be sold at Barneys beginning in November. Many of them under $200.
But prices are not the only thing that has changed since the recession. The jeans business is just not the same without the swagger.
“You have the underpinnings of a disaster if people can’t turn this around,” Mr. Morrison said.
Of course, people will turn denim around and around and around, lately as skinny jeans or boyfriend jeans and even more recently as jeans so skinny they are called “jeggings.”
Mr. Rosso of Diesel also sensed it is time for a change. Last week, he met with his team of designers to give them a challenge, he said, to reinvent denim in a “younger way, a fresher way.”
“It’s been too many years that we’ve just looked at wash, and the time is now to make an evolution,” Mr. Rosso said. “Denim is the only fabric you really can transform.”

It's no surprise to me that brands like True Religion and Diesel, which really aren't selling very special jeans at all, are having to slash the living shit out of their prices to stay competitive. I'm surprised they even mention 45RPM though; because I didn't think that brand would be on NY Times' radar and because they're about as dissimiliar from the designer denim movement as a ridiculously expensive jean can be.

Steve
24th November 09, 05:00 PM
"Butt lift" jeans? Thanks Google ads, I'll be getting laid in no time with those!!

FickleFingerOfFate
24th November 09, 05:03 PM
Do they still make 'Toughskins'?


< Runs from inevitable tirade by the fashionista >

MEGA JESUS-SAMA
24th November 09, 05:11 PM
I had to look those up. Were they as bad as everyone says?

FickleFingerOfFate
24th November 09, 05:13 PM
Worse,

I begged for Levi's

Feryk
24th November 09, 05:13 PM
Wow, you just dated yourself, and called yourself white trash with one question.

FickleFingerOfFate
24th November 09, 05:15 PM
Single income house w/4 kids.

'nuff said?

( I only had 1 pair that I recall, but they were like a cross between sandpaper and over-starched burlap. I usually wore Lee's)

MEGA JESUS-SAMA
24th November 09, 05:16 PM
how much did levi's cost back in the middle ages?

FickleFingerOfFate
24th November 09, 05:18 PM
About $30 if I recall, but you could almost get 2 pairs of Lee's for that. It's not like there were a lot of choices back then.

MEGA JESUS-SAMA
24th November 09, 05:24 PM
Lees were pretty good though. I have vintage pieces from both but I prefer the Levi's. I get the feeling that Lee was too fucking cowboy-style for most people.

Feryk
24th November 09, 05:27 PM
Straight boot cut Lee's. Totally cowboy. Everyone I knew wanted Levi's.

FickleFingerOfFate
24th November 09, 05:56 PM
I had a pair of Levi's Big Bells.

They had a flared leg so wide, you couldn't see the top of your sneakers.

UpaLumpa
24th November 09, 05:56 PM
I buy Levi's from Target for 19.99

Is that bad?

FickleFingerOfFate
24th November 09, 06:08 PM
I never see them at that price, or I would too.

nihilist
25th November 09, 05:45 AM
http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/8059/actionjeans.jpg

Madgrenade
25th November 09, 08:52 AM
I can't belive anyone would spend that much on one pair of jeans.

Feryk
25th November 09, 11:55 AM
24.99 so you can head kick? Not that bad.

partyboy
25th November 09, 12:05 PM
I had the "privilege" of having True Religion as a client.. WAAAAY overrated. you should see the actual cost of those things vs. retail

Spade: The Real Snake
25th November 09, 12:18 PM
Do they still make 'Toughskins'?

You buy the "Husky" size, don't you?

Ming Loyalist
25th November 09, 12:49 PM
I buy Levi's from Target for 19.99

Is that bad?

if you buy the shrink to fit version, then they are one of the best values for the money i guess. dickies are well made in that price range.

i feel bad for the kids who had to wear tough skins.

when i was a kid (in the 70s) lee jeans were for losers, like wranglers, but now i actually want to get a pair of reproduction 1940's lees that are made in japan the next time i am in over there. go figure.

MEGA JESUS-SAMA
26th November 09, 01:13 PM
I never see them at that price, or I would too.

Levi's has a new budget line called Levi's Signature. It's not the same as the Levi's you'd get from a Levi's store or at a more upscale department store than Target.

Feryk
26th November 09, 03:09 PM
Really NOB? Three threads with a pic of your ass in them? Fuck, I know you are stuck at work and you are probably bored, but for the love of God, man. NO MORE PICS OF YOUR ASS! Give us a break and give us a pic of your wife's ass, at least.

socratic
26th November 09, 05:19 PM
When the US$ comes to parity with the AUS$ I'm so going to buy some fucking Levis.

FickleFingerOfFate
26th November 09, 07:27 PM
Really NOB? Three threads with a pic of your ass in them? Fuck, I know you are stuck at work and you are probably bored, but for the love of God, man. NO MORE PICS OF YOUR ASS! Give us a break and give us a pic of your wife's ass, at least.


That is her ass,

all 5'10" of it.

MEGA JESUS-SAMA
27th November 09, 01:48 PM
When the US$ comes to parity with the AUS$ I'm so going to buy some fucking Levis.

Levi's cost like $100 in Europe too so it's not just your currency. The current mainline isn't particularly special anyway, it's just one of the best in its class ($30 - $50 jeans). If I were you I'd either try to proxy a pair of Levi's or get them on ebay or just buy something in its ridiculous Australian price range that's better.

jvjim
27th November 09, 02:43 PM
I need to update my jean game.

MEGA JESUS-SAMA
27th November 09, 02:52 PM
UO just picked up a brand called Unbranded that seems like a good deal at a (relatively) affordable price for fancy jeans. I'd try to look at them in person first because I remember you being a bit bigger and all their fits are slim or skinny.

http://search.urbanoutfitters.com/?q=unbranded

Phrost
27th November 09, 03:37 PM
Hah, just saw a commercial for Lee jeans for $20 while reading this thread.

The most I've ever paid for jeans was $70, at Express Men; the material was awesome.

Fucking things had the button pop off; now it's being held on with a paper clip because I fucking paid $70 for them.

MEGA JESUS-SAMA
27th November 09, 04:09 PM
That might be fixable.

Phrost
27th November 09, 11:35 PM
The whole thing came through the fabric, fastener and all. It'd take some fancy stitching and the paper clip has held for a month now just fine. They're loose around the waist but tight on the legs so I have to wear a belt with them anyway so it's not a big deal.

They're a dark blue like these: http://www.express.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=199&parentCategoryId=1&categoryId=252&subCategoryId=254

The material's fucking phenomenal, but fuck spending that much on jeans ever again.

nihilist
28th November 09, 01:02 AM
That might be fixable.
Let me know when you are wearing the jeans and I'll hold those buttons together using only my lips.

jvjim
28th November 09, 01:26 AM
UO just picked up a brand called Unbranded that seems like a good deal at a (relatively) affordable price for fancy jeans. I'd try to look at them in person first because I remember you being a bit bigger and all their fits are slim or skinny.

http://search.urbanoutfitters.com/?q=unbranded
Tapered might work if I lose around 20.

ICY
28th November 09, 02:52 AM
I feel ripped off if I spend more than $35.

bob
28th November 09, 03:14 AM
I haven't bought a pair of jeans in about 20 years. For some reason I just don't like them.

MEGA JESUS-SAMA
28th November 09, 03:02 PM
The whole thing came through the fabric, fastener and all. It'd take some fancy stitching and the paper clip has held for a month now just fine. They're loose around the waist but tight on the legs so I have to wear a belt with them anyway so it's not a big deal.

They're a dark blue like these: http://www.express.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=199&parentCategoryId=1&categoryId=252&subCategoryId=254

The material's fucking phenomenal, but fuck spending that much on jeans ever again.

The thing about Express and other budget fashion houses is that they usually pony up for luxury fabrics and then skimp on the detailing like buttons or thread to keep cost down. It's Christmas sale season so you can probably roll to your nearest Levi's retailer and get 501s for pennies on the dollar.