That perfect pair of jeans. Finding one these days, in spite of a heavily saturated market, can still be elusive. In the following pages, WWD defines today’s denim market with a rundown on each brand, and where they fit in the vast universe of denim.

Global Appeal: These brands, which originated in Europe and Asia, are known the world over and have a following among progressive fashion types, especially those fond of alternative music and art openings. With the exception of Mavi, which retails under $100, and Evisu, which rings in at $250-$300, these jeans have contemporary price points, ranging from $100 to $150. And while denim remains a core item, brands like Diesel, Miss Sixty and Marithé & François Girbaud have expanded with full sportswear and designer collections that include outerwear, accessories and shoes.

The New Misses’: While they all quote an age range of 25-55, or in the case of Lee Jeans, “past juniors but far from a traditional misses’,” these jeans are redefining the category. They want contemporary styling in a jean, but a fit that flatters the more seasoned figure. The price points are generally $30-$69, the exception being Cambio, which retails for $150-$300, and is sold in higher-end stores such as Saks and Nordstrom.

Independents: Designed by small start-ups reminiscent of the dot-com age, these grassroots denim creations have made a quiet boom in the denim market. The only exception in this younger crowd is AG Adriano Goldschmied, a label stared by a Diesel co-founder and 30-year denim industry veteran. By staying independent, these brands can do it their way, attracting customers who are looking for something unique and exclusive. Price points range from $90 to $385. Lines like Paper Denim & Cloth and Habitual have also expanded beyond denim to include sportswear items.

The New Immigrants: Having already made an impact in their native countries such as Brazil, Turkey and Canada, these jeans are set to storm the American market. Ellus Jeans has been established in Brazil since 1972; Colin’s, around since 1983, is from Turkey; Ubi from Amsterdam has been established since 2000; and I Jeans is the newer, more pricy premium Japanese denim jean from the makers of Buffalo. These jeans range in price from $60 to $160.The Californians: Casual lifestyle and California are practically synonymous, so it’s no wonder jeans are the basis of a West Coast wardrobe. These brands cater to the benefits of an active lifestyle, with many focusing on a sexy fit and classic, American styling, along with vintage details. Retail prices range from $98-$198.

Junior Big Guns: Today’s teens are in denim practically 24/7, so it’s no wonder that junior brands occupy a huge part of the market. Targeting teens and tweens, ages 12-20, these brands retail from $38 to $42, and are found in major national chains like Federated, Kohl’s and Mervyn’s as well as junior specialty stores like Wet Seal.

The All-Americans: These are America’s mega denim brands, which are all lifestyle-oriented, including Polo Jeans from the quintessential lifestyle brand, Ralph Lauren. Average price points range from $39-$79 for denim and all offer full sportswear collections.

The It Girls: These jeans are for the trend-obsessed, fashion-crazed women and girls who always have the latest items; the designer-conscious who often wear their jeans with a piece of designer clothing and a pair of heels. These jeans retail anywhere from $140-$225 and have a key presence in trendy boutiques as well as major upscale department stores.

The Newcomers: Having all arrived on the denim market within the last year, these jeans are making waves in the denim market. Generally priced in the contemporary price range (anywhere from $120-$225), these looks offer unique styling and fit. Fractal jeans, for instance, utilize a laser technique called “lazes” to create detail. Rock & Republic and Citizens for Humanity (formed by Jerome Dahan and Michael Glasser, the original designers of Seven For All Mankind), offer a great fit and flattering details like fitted jackets for the fashion-forward customer.

The Urban Vibe: This is one of the fastest-growing categories of the last few years. While the core of this business has been women’s offshoots of their male counterparts, they aren’t content to be seen as just an “urban brand.” Retail prices range from $49 to as high as $220.European Diffusion: Much like their American designer counterparts, these designer lifestyle brands offer their customers, who range in age from 18-40, affordable and designer-oriented collections at a fraction of the main collections’ cost. These jeans range from $125-$250.

The Canadians: Our neighbors to the north have made quite a name for themselves in the denim trade. Companies like Silver (which manufactures private label denim as well as their own line Buffalo), Parasuco and Hollywood Jeans have had sales up to $60 million in the United States.

The Contemporaries: A category of denim that has exploded in the last eight years, these directional jeans are known for their fit and styling, and have established loyal followings. Retail prices range from $100-$160.

The Levi’s Stable: These are definitely not your parents’ Levi’s.Today, the company who invented the blue jean has something for practically everyone. The current lineup:

  • Levi’s Red: a European-designed, fashion-forward line for denim enthusiasts.
  • Levi’s Vintage Clothing: For those seeking authenticity, this line reinterprets classic items from Levi’s archives and sells them in limited quantities, which start at $145 and go to $600. Both types are sold at Selvedge and other boutiques. 3) Levi’s Type1: $48-$110; 4) Levi’s Red Tab: $34-$65; 5) Levi’s Premium Denim: $95-$130.


The Junior Trend: These junior brands emphasize design details like trims, belts, washes, tints and pockets as seen in the current cargo trend. Blue Asphalt Jeans has recently signed on with junior retail giant Wet Seal to produce exclusively for them. Retail price points for these jeans are $34 to $59.

Mass Appeal: These brands, drawn from the depths of the Seventies and Eighties, have resurfaced at major discount chains such as Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target. Targeting the misses’ customer, they range from $17-30.

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