In recent weeks, WWD asked a wide group of jeans executives to name the denim brands they keep their eyes on, whether because of fashion leadership, innovative merchandising, creative marketing or purely out of competitive concerns. Respondents to the informal and unscientific poll named a broad range of competitors, but five names were repeatedly mentioned by executives from across the spectrum. The list is a diverse one, ranging from trendy European names to West Coast brands with a couple of years under their belts to the sesquicentenarian that started the jeans category in the U.S.

Diesel

A pioneer in the field of pricey jeans, Diesel convinced consumers in its home country of Italy and later around the world to open their wallets for jeans with triple-digit price tags. Renowned for its tongue-in-cheek marketing and fashion-forward designs, the company has grown into a $660 million enterprise encompassing several sportswear and ready-to-wear brands.

Paper, Denim & Cloth

This three-year-old, New York-based, $32 million denim line is a high-end brand launched by junior jeans vendor Mudd Inc. Paper jeans compete in a much higher bracket than the moderate brand’s flagship lines, carrying retail prices up to $170 and bearing resin finishes and oven-baked treatments.

Levi’s

The world’s first and still largest, jeans brand is closely watched by almost everyone in the business, and lately the big question has been when it’s going to pull out of the sales slump that has lasted six years and lowered its volume to $3.06 billion. One thing that might do it is the launch this month of Levi Strauss Signature jeans at Wal-Mart, though executives also said they’re curious to see how consumers respond to the company’s Type One jeans, which are being toned down this fall after a slow spring launch.

Seven For All Mankind

Following the exit of Jerome Dahan and Michael Glasser, owner Peter Koral moved quickly to bring in a new design staff at Seven For All Mankind, and so far, the changes appear not to have affected the $60 million brand’s popularity among the young and trendy. New designer Tim Kaeding, a Gap veteran, recently told WWD he’s pumping up the line’s color and washes to keep consumers enthused.AG Adriano Goldschmied

Adriano Goldschmied is known to industry insiders as the co-founder of Diesel and the man who gave that brand’s current owner, Renzo Rosso, his start in the business. Goldschmied’s new $18 million brand, AG Adriano Goldschmied, is sold in high-end boutiques to shoppers who appreciate details in washes and finishes.

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