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Fashion is all in the JEANS (sarah michelle gellar mention)

Sheela Narayanan

Sunday 6 August 2006, by Webmaster

But how many people would pay top dollar for a pair?

WOULD you pay $950 for a pair of jeans?

That dollar value is not an exaggeration. A local street wear boutique, Surrender, will be selling 100 pairs of its limited edition men’s jeans at that princely price today .

The Far East Plaza boutique collaborated with high-end niche Japanese label Neighborhood to design the jeans.

Welcome to the world of premium denim where casual wear can cost more than the monthly salary of a public toilet cleaner in Singapore, which, by the way, is about $600 to $700. In the last six years, jeans have shrugged off their blue-collar roots and have now become a status symbol with the proliferation of cult labels like True Religion, 7 for Mankind, Rock and Republic and Citizens For Humanity. Click to see larger image # Gina Lau lives niche labels.—Picture: JONATHAN CHOO

The labels have celebrity value with Hollywood actresses wearing the twilled cotton. (See report on facing page.)

These labels cost at least $400 in Singapore.

What is so special about those jeans and why are women crazy about them?

Monica Low, the owner of Inhabit, the Palais Renaissance boutique that carries close to 10 cult labels, told The New Paper:

’Every single pair, especially the limited-edition ones are hand sewn, with different designs on the back pocket and they really flatter the thighs and the butt.’

Ms Gina Lau, the creative director of The Hair Shop in Paragon estimates she has close to 60 pairs of these niche labels.

An average pair would cost her anywhere from $300 to $500 and she buys at least one pair every two months.

Her most expensive buy is a pair of Dsquared jeans, which retails at $1,300 but which Ms Lau bought on sale for $800 at Inhabit.

She told The New Paper that she doesn’t buy such pricey jeans for the snob value.

’It’s the fit, the cut, the details on the back and especially how they make my thighs slimmer and my butt look great.

’They are extremely comfortable to wear as the denim is super fine,’ she said.

Ms Lau, who wears her jeans daily, believes that buying these cult brands are more of an investment.

’These are not something I wear just once and throw out after paying so much money.’

Self-confessed jeans addict Agnes Ng echoed Ms Low’s sentiments.

The 30-year-old make-up artist recently paid $800 for a pair of limited-edition True Religion jeans with a patchwork design.

She reckons she has about 20 to 30 pairs of cult-label jeans.

Said Ms Ng: ’These jeans cater to women of all shapes and curves. Do you know how difficult it is to find jeans that fit so well?’

Ms Ann Kositchotitana, the owner of Front Row boutique at Ann Siang Road, believes women are willing to pay top dollar for these jeans because of the exclusive factor.

’You wouldn’t expect many people to be wearing the same thing,’ she said.

The Thai-born retailer who is married to a Singaporean, sells the French label A.P.C jeans exclusively.

The deceptively simple-looking jeans have no labels on the back pockets but the brand has quite a fan base in the fashion industry.

The jeans range from $240 to $280.


Ms Kositchotitana told The New Paper that people who wear A.P.C are not label crazy.

’They are looking for a good quality pair with a reasonable price,’ she said.

She keeps her prices within the $200 to $300 range because she gets her supplies directly from the French label.

’I cut out the middle man, which is why I am able to sell it at more or less the home country’s prices,’ she added.

On A.P.C’s website, an unwashed standard pair of women’s jeans costs about 110 euros ($224) excluding shipping costs.

Ironically, the humble pair of jeans had its roots in the mid-19th century when Levi Strauss made jeans for gold miners in California in 1853.

Nowadays, it has become a wardrobe necessity for any occasion, from business to evening wear.

Stars are wearing it, even at formal red carpet outings and Steve Jobs of Apple proudly claims to wear it to work.

Robert Burke, fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman, one of New York city’s premiere stores told The New York Times: ’Ten years ago nobody had ever heard of the category (of cult jeans).’

The global jeans market, according to Market Research.com - an online market and business analysis firm - was worth US$49 billion ($77.4bn) in 2004. In Singapore, there are about 10 premium denim boutiques.

The New Paper asked Singaporeans what they thought about Surrender’s $950 price tag.

Many said they wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if it was a designer label, like Dolce & Gabbana or Gucci, but would not pay so much for a niche brand.

Melissa Pang, a 22-year-old freelance writer, said: ’Nobody would be able to tell that it is a $950 pair of jeans and jeans also wear out after sometime. What if I grow fat? That’s $950 down the drain.’

The most expensive pair she owns is a $130 pair of Levi’s.

Travel consultant Sumathi Rajakumar, 29, was shocked to hear the price.

She said: ’Forget it. I would rather spend it on something else - go on a holiday or invest the money - than spend $950 on jeans.’

Earn Chen, the owner of Surrender, said his hefty price tag is justifiable as the jeans have artwork designed by artist Andy Cheng which are sewn in patches on the denim. ’Each pair is different from the other. It is expensive because it’s exclusive,’ he said.

Stylist Jansen Siak believes that Singaporeans will buy these premium brands as they give the perception of having great value.

’And they will keep it for a long time. Denim is not subject to the vagaries of fashion styles,’ he said.

Ms Kositchotitana agreed.

She said: ’Denim is not going to go away. It’s so ingrained in fashion.

’The question is whether the brands will stay.’ - Additional reporting by Syahirah Anwar Guess who’s wearing what in Hollywood

GOT the cash for a cult-label pair of jeans but not sure where to put your money.

Here’s a quick guide on the hottest labels and the hot celebrities donning them.

# DSquared ($1,300): The Italian brand, made by Canadian twin brothers, is famous for the super-low cut. Celebrity fans: Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Naomi Campbell, Cameron Diaz.

# Blue Cult ($319 and up): Known for its best-selling ’butt-lifter’ jeans which works like a push-up bra for the behind.

Celebrity fans: Gwyneth Paltrow and Halle Berry.

# Every, Paper, Denim & Cloth denim ($609 and up): The jeans are numbered and have a contoured waistband which means when you bend over or sit down, the world won’t see your underwear. Celebrity fans: Jennifer Aniston and Hilary Swank.

# 7 For All Mankind ($329 and up): Known for having a great fit and proportioned back pockets. Celebrity fans: Jessica Simpson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Britney Spears, Sarah Jessica Parker.

# True Religion ($519 and up): Known for curvy cuts that accentuate the hips and oversized horseshoe pockets to downplay the gluteus maximus. Celebrity fans: Kate Hudson, Angelina Jolie, Heidi Klum, Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani.

# Rock & Republic ($579 and up): Has a limited edition Victoria Beckham collection and names its various styles after rock stars. Celebrity fans: Paris Hilton, Nicky Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and, of course, Posh.

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