>Levi’s New Frontier

>Although I rarely wear jeans I do like Levi’s, which are an American classic. They embody some of the best American values: hard-working, long-lasting and inexpensive. They simply do their job well, again and again.

However, I doubt the wisdom of their recent business of partnering with men’s clothing shops to make special editions. These are usually based on proprietary “washes” which are usually indistinguishable to my, admittedly untrained, eye. The latest of these is with Brooks Brothers, following on their collaboration with J. Crew. Part of that brand’s effort to reinvent itself as a boutique provider of men’s clothing classics in addition to their own collection.

Brooks itself attempted to get into the denim business several years ago just as the designer denim market was reaching its peak. (And oh, how it pains me to write the oxymoronic words “designer denim.”) Those “five-pocket” jeans at least distinguish themselves by being made from longer-staple and thus higher-quality supima cotton. An assurance that isn’t to be found on the new pairing. The collaboration with J. Crew also offered some jeans made from selvedge denim which Brooks doesn’t appear to do, or at least doesn’t advertise. This is troubling because despite these drawbacks the new jeans are more expensive than previous products from either Levi’s or Brooks. I am certainly a novice when it comes to denim, but I’m not sure how much value is added with the new collaboration. It appears to be simply the pairing of two classic names hoping that the whole is more than the sum of the parts.

We shall see what the market decides.

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