By  on May 22, 2008

JEANS BRANDS HAVE EMBRACED THE MIDDLE ground.

With a flailing economy and fashion-conscious shoppers wanting more for their money, there's been an influx of lines joining a sub-premium price range of $65 to $125, with $100 being the average.

For years, the only real choice for young teen girls was shopping for their jeans in the junior area, spending no more than $50 for a new pair. But the quality and styling weren't always the best. Then the premium category got hot, with lines such as Seven For All Mankind and True Religion rolling off the racks at price tags of $200 or more.

"As a consumer, I honestly got tired of the high prices in premium," said Noelle Collet, director of sales at Blank, a New York-based brand launched last year by the makers of Odyn. "I just couldn't understand why I couldn't get a great-looking pair of jeans for a lower price."

Collet said while Odyn was doing fairly well at retail, she was starting to see stores getting more price sensitive in their buying. This led to the development of Blank, which now sells at high-end specialty stores such as Intermix, Neiman Marcus Cusp and Kitson. For the summer, the brand launched a small collection of graphic T-shirts to go with the jeans. Styles include a range of skinnies — from a dark black denim to a white high-rise — a straight leg and a flare. Collet said the company is working on expanding the collection for fall. Blank wholesales for $14 to $32.

"This customer doesn't want cheap jeans, like the ones they can find at Forever 21 or H&M, but they also don't want to spend the high prices of Seven For All Mankind or Citizens of Humanity," said Ron Poisson, president of sales at the New York-based Anoname Jeans, which sells jeans at $78 ($36 wholesale) a pair. "This customer does recognize value and quality, which is what we aim to achieve."

Poisson said he is able to keep costs down by manufacturing his own denim. Instead of buying the fabric from mills, he prefers to buy the cotton and then produce the fabric in Anoname's own factories in China. The result is an extensive line of denim jeans in various washes and six fits — skinny, straight-leg, boot-cut, trouser, wide-leg and flare. He said Anoname's designers pay close attention to offering fashionable, trendy washes each season — such as with brown tinted denim and the dark black jeans — and even the company's basic styles have some element of novelty, such as with the basic jeans with flap back pockets.

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