By  on April 22, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Levi's is popping out of American Rag Cie's denim store here with a new polkadot-themed temporary shop that underscores its efforts to focus on the women's market to drive revenue.

The pop-up store, which opened Friday for a two-month run, highlights Levi's merchandise that uses images from artists Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol. It gives a jolt of artistic edge to both Levi's and American Rag's World Denim Bar, which is next to the main American Rag space on busy La Brea Avenue here. The kinetic window display is layered with images of models, a red skull, polkadots and a paint-splattered pair of jeans.

"It's making a statement," said Jennifer Althouse, the buyer for World Denim Bar, which also houses shop-in-shops for Levi's main line, J Brand, Diesel, Evisu and Double RL.

The pop-up shop in American Rag follows the April 3 debut of a Levi's temporary store in Fred Segal Man in Santa Monica, Calif. Selling only men's items from Levi's collaboration with Hirst and Warhol, the section in Fred Segal Man was created by Adrian Nyman, the co-design director on the Hirst and Warhol line.

Nyman acknowledged decorating the sliver of a space as economically as he could, for instance, pressing tin foil over fake brick panels he bought at Home Depot. The do-it-yourself touch appealed to "Into the Wild" actor Emile Hirsch and local "It" girl Cory Kennedy, who both dropped by the launch party this month.

Indeed, pop-up stores are a trend as companies look at retail in a different way, particularly in a slowing economy when long-term leases, geographical limitations and overhead are costly. "It's another way of how people are rethinking retail and questioning what it looks like and what it is for," said Debra Stevenson, a trend analyst who follows fashion and retail at her consultancy firm Skyline Studios in Los Angeles.

At World Denim Bar, tucked behind a golden bear towering over visitors and next to a vintage gas station pump, the white metal frames encasing Levi's temporary store stand out from the dark wood decor. A four-and-a-half-minute video chronicling construction of the art installation-cum-runway that Hirst designed for Levi's fashion show in September at New York's Gagosian Gallery is broadcast on a constant loop inside a white box.Levi's dismantled parts of the installation, as well as the bench that fashion show guests, including Mary-Kate Olsen, sat on and integrated them into the 15-foot-by-15-foot pop-up store abutting Levi's regular shop-in-shop. Customers can browse $165 white jeans from Levi's Capital E label and $185 vintage 501s in the main shop-in-shop, before checking out the 40 Warhol-Hirst pieces for men and women, including a $1,500 V-neck T plastered with crystal skulls, $320 skinny cargo pants slashed with a dozen zippers and $165 silk shorts bursting in a bright polkadot pattern.

If shoppers don't know who Warhol and Hirst are, each clothing item includes a Polaroid photo of Warhol and a book is splayed with a portrait of Hirst mugging with a skull he crafted from platinum, diamonds and human teeth.

"What's important is all this merchandise is comingled together," said Sheri Timmons, who oversees Levi's brand influencer marketing in Los Angeles.

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