By  on March 6, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Premium denim brand Frankie B. is making its signature low-riding jeans more accessible for the budget-conscious consumer.

Under a new group called Frankie B. Originals, the Los Angeles-based company is offering five styles wholesaling for $59 to $69. The flagship brand costs between $69 and $129 at wholesale.

Launching for fall, the first delivery will be in May. The styles range from skinny legs and boot cuts to novelty pieces, including one that has a heart-shaped pocket trimmed with burgundy leather strips and studs. Unlike the brand's core line, Frankie B. Originals will be made overseas with less expensive washes, such as sandblasting and dark rinses. The company said the two lines will feature the same fit.

"Our main focus was keep the fit, keep the styling and keep the quality," said designer and founder Daniella Clarke, who noted that the main line will continue to be made in the U.S. because "it's important to us."

Clarke said customers were the inspiration for the lower-priced styles, adding that some are as young as 13 and can't afford the Frankie B. jeans that start retailing at $165.

"We've been getting a lot of demand for lower-priced items," Clarke said.

The timing seems fortuitous, as consumer confidence sinks, gasoline prices surge and other denim brands, such as Blue Cult, Yanuk and City of Others, strive to offer premium product at a moderate price.

Frankie B.'s lower-priced styles were welcomed by Sarah Kass, an 18-year-old college student from Palos Verdes, Calif., who was trying on jeans recently at a boutique in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

"I'd totally buy it," said Kass, who was unfazed that the new subbrand would be made abroad. Kass owns five pairs of Frankie B.'s — her last purchase cost $170 — because she likes that they are cut low and tight.

Retailers that have ordered the lower-priced group include Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as specialty shops such as Atrium in New York, Urban Chic in Washington, Lulu in Bal Harbour, Fla., Blue Genes in Atlanta and Planet Blue, which operates California stores in Venice, Malibu, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

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