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NEW YORK — When teens head to the malls later this summer to begin their back-to-school shopping, they’ll be met with a number of higher-priced lines from familiar jeans vendors.

This story first appeared in the July 8, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Those lines will draw heavily on the Eighties for inspiration, offering narrow leg shapes and vintage-looking washes. Brands including DKNY Jeans and L.E.I. are preparing high-end collections for fall.

“Premium denim was recently introduced and it’s been very successful,” said Susan Davidson, president of DKNY Jeans & Juniors. “It’s at a higher price point and consists of fashion styles created with high-end imported denim. We use really great fabrics, like ‘ring ring’ denims and left-hand twill denim, which has a soft, worn-in, vintage hand and responds well to washes and treatments, like tacking.”

With the regular DKNY Jeans line ranging in retail prices from $49 to $59 in the denim collection, the new premium denim line sells for $79 to $89.

In a similar move, L.E.I., which is owned by Jones Apparel Group, is planning to launch two denim collections for the season. The lines will carry a higher range of price points, as well as a more high-end look. The first, which just hit at retail, is called E Denim, with targeted retail prices of about $48 — about $20 higher than the typical promotion price on L.E.I. jeans. The brand will follow up in late September with a second line called L.E.I. Premium, with a targeted price of around $39.

While these lines are still far from the $120 jeans sold by Seven For All Mankind, they are still considered premium to a teen customer who typically buys jeans retailing for $29.99.

— Julee Greenberg