The Meatpacking District, a destination for chic designer shops, is getting a dose of mass appeal.

This story first appeared in the February 3, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Levi Strauss is set to arrive in the fall at 414 West 14th Street, between Ninth Avenue and Washington Street, in a renovated historic building.

Levi’s will join Stella McCartney, Diane Von Furstenberg, Scoop, Vince, Jeffrey, Matthew Williamson, The Standard Hotel, Theory, Apple and other upscale businesses that have transformed the neighborhood, along with the innovative High Line park, which opened last year. Jeans specialists in the area include Jeans Shop and Ernest Sewn.

“It is a one-dimensional market for a truly very hip, younger consumer, much more avant-garde in their dress,” said Steve Greenberg, president of the Greenberg Group retail real estate advisors. “I don’t see the Meatpacking District as a place for the traditional mall retailer. The buzz is all about the uniqueness of the area, and what stores like Jeffrey and Vince bring to the area. It’s a collection of very unique designers.”

Levi’s already operates a store at 25 West 14th Street, three blocks east, where it draws different clientele. “Levi’s has to be careful not to do what Gap did years ago, which is oversaturate the market,” Greenberg said. “But New York is a market with lots of submarkets.”

At Jeffrey, which is located at 449 West 14th St., president Jeffrey Kalinsky said: “We carry Levi’s. It’s an iconic American brand. It doesn’t connote a price point. It connotes a lifestyle. I am inspired by brands like Levi’s that are part of the culture. I think Levi’s is a great addition to the neighborhood.”

Levi’s could merchandise the more than 2,600-square-foot store with its highest-priced vintage line, which includes $500 jeans, or its Capital E jeans in the $100-to-$200 range, but most Levi’s jeans are in the $50-to-$80 range. On the low end, there’s the Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. brand selling at mass merchants such as Wal-Mart, Target and Kmart. Levi’s also customizes jeans in a few stores.

“Our new location in New York’s Meatpacking District is exactly the kind of site we are looking for as we expand the Levi’s Store retail network across the United States,” said Joelle Maher, senior vice president, Levi’s Americas retail commercial operations. “We have secured a prime location in an area that has become a mecca for savvy, creative and artistic consumers looking for innovative, trend-leading products. The neighborhood is vibrant and growing, and has attracted some of the world’s top brands and retailers.”

The $4.4 billion Levi’s operates three locations in Manhattan in addition to the 14th Street unit: 750 Lexington Avenue, 536 Broadway and 1501 Broadway. Levi’s has 260 company-owned and 1,500 franchised stores worldwide.

In the Meatpacking District, Levi’s is moving into a 60,000-square-foot, six-level building owned by The Carlyle Group and SITT Asset Management, with an additional 3,741 square feet of retail space available on the ground floor, plus availability on higher floors. The site has a brick facade, a rooftop terrace and is suitable for events.

The landlord and Levi’s were represented by Laura Pomerantz, principal of PBS Real Estate.

“Traffic and demand for space has significantly increased in the neighborhood,” Pomerantz said. “It will get even stronger when the Whitney [Museum of American Art branch] opens” on Gansevoort and Washington Streets.

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