Friday, August 14, 2009

Gap jeans step into designer territory

By Andrea Chang Business

The 1969 Premium Jeans line replaces old basics in a bid to win back customers it's lost to stylish competitors. But, skeptics say, can $60 denim really be 'premium'?
Patrick Robinson has led the shake-up of Gap's denim line. The chain is counting on 1969 Premium Jeans to pull it out of a prolonged slump. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times / August 6, 2009)

During a visit to a Gap store two years ago, Patrick Robinson didn't need to try on a pair to know that the chain's jeans were the wrong fit.

"I felt there was a problem, and the problem was the jeans hadn't been moved forward with the brand," he said. "The jeans were an old story."

It wasn't idle criticism. Robinson had just been brought in as Gap's executive vice president of design to shake things up amid growing concern that the brand was losing its appeal.

Over the next year and a half, he led an overhaul of the chain's denim, the biggest reworking of jeans in the company's history. Out went Gap's years-old collection of basic straight-leg and boot-cut jeans; in came a line of premium denim featuring "heavy-gauge thread and single-needle stitching," "vintage-inspired busted side seams" and styles such as the Always Skinny and the Sexy Boot.

The new denim line, called 1969 Premium Jeans in homage to the year the San Francisco company was founded, is set to officially debut today, although the jeans have been slowly rolling out in stores during recent weeks.

To Read The Entire Story: Business and Future Readers Check Out: The Gap

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