Levi's In London: Levi's Levi Strauss & Co. will open a 10,000-square-foot Original Levi's store here by the end of the year.

A spokeswoman for Levi Strauss U.K. said the store will be the first company-owned store in the world. Until now, Levi's stores have been franchised throughout the world. In the U.S., Original Levi's stores have been opened in a joint venture between Levi Strauss and Designs Inc.

(At Levi Strauss headquarters in San Francisco, a spokesman said he had no information on the London development.)

The London store will be in Regent Street, in the same complex as a 28,000-square-foot Warner Bros. Studio Store that opens in mid-October.

Westward ho: Echoing reports from other retailers, western wear stores shopping the western market at the Dallas Market Center here over the weekend cited lively back-to-school denim sales for men and women. Fashion goods continue to lead the way for women, they said.

The pickup that developed after several months of sluggish sales had merchants optimistic about holiday, with many projecting increases for the all-important holiday season -- either in same-store sales or through additional units.

Among retailers shopping the show, Donald Midkiff, chairman of the Albuquerque-based Cooper's/Western Wearhouse, said he noticed a pickup in business in the past month.

"Apparel sales had been soft earlier in the summer...," he said. "But ever since the weather changed, sales have increased."

Overall, Midkiff said that the men's business is outperforming the women's, although upper-end western lines such as Circle T and Rocky Mountain Clothing Co. are doing well.

Ted Gober, general manager of the five-unit Wild West Outfitters in the Dallas area, said he was satisfied with flat sales because "last year was fantastic." In the past month, he added, the company has seen a marked increase in sales, due to events such as last week's Cattle Baron's Ball.

Among the top performers are leathers, hats and suede and cotton combinations in women's wear.

Looking to holiday, Gober expects demand to break loose with the first cold weather.

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