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Dockers debuts premium khaki at American Rag


Dockers is trying to give khaki a new cachet, -- and take its tan trouser business, long the linchpin of the casual Friday wardrobe -- decidedly up-market.

The brand's first-ever stateside premium offering (its higher priced pants are already offered in Europe) has been dubbed the K-1 Khaki Collection and consists of eight different styles (including subtle resin-baked whiskering and staining; rip-and-repair destruction; and soft, washed-down corduroys) and some 16 different colors including the traditional hue (technically "khaki" is a reference to the color, it comes from the Hindi word for "dust-colored") and a dark, over-dyed olive drab that approaches the color of well-worn military fatigues. Prices range from $150 to $250 (compared with $30 to $60 for traditional Dockers).

To underscore the premium positioning of the K-1 collection, the Levi Strauss-owned brand has partnered with local boutique American Rag Cie, which has constructed a dedicated khaki corner inside its world denim bar, and festooned the windows fronting La Brea Avenue with Dockers ephemera including an out-size, rustic wooden version of its wing-and-anchor logo studded with light bulbs.

And, for four hours Saturday, Levi Strauss & Co. historian Lynn Downey will be at American Rag to share some of  the rare, early khaki pieces from the company's archives with the khaki-curious public. (On a past visit to the company's San Francisco archives, I learned that the company can document the manufacture of khaki pants and coats at least as far back as a 1906 catalog -- in which they are listed at a price of $13.50 a dozen.)

It will be interesting to see if the consumer ultimately cottons to the costly khaki -- but if it catches on (and stranger things have happened -- remember when we scoffed at $250 blue jeans?), it could prove to be a real kick in the pants for the Dockers brand.

Meet the Levi's historian, ogle rare khakis and enter to win in-store prizes. 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, American Rag Cie, 150 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles.

-- Adam Tschorn

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Photos: Dockers' new, higher priced  K-1 collection, which rolled out to retail this month, will have a permanent home inside American Rag on La Brea Avenue, with signage and displays that emphasize quality and craftsmanship. Partnering with the boutique is part of the label's bid to tap into the $150 to $200 premium pants business. Credit: Dockers

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This has all the indications of a Marketing 101 fail: Levi's is spreading the Dockers brand too wide, from affordable chinos to shirts to belts to shoes, now into high-end khakis.

This is the lazy way to market products - diluting an successful brand name and hope consumers won't notice the difference. Problem is that if the new brand fails, it can hurt the existing brands.

Think Coke, Diet Coke, Coke1, Caffeine Free Coke, CF-Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Diet Cherry Coke, Coke with Lime, etc. Total confusion, especially when a retailer runs out of the product.

Now consider Proctor & Gamble: every brand (Tide, All, Crest, Crisco, Betty Crocker, Gillette) stands alone and few consumers bother to look for the P&G name.

Levi-Strauss should have created a new brand for high end clothing, and left Dockers to its survive by itself in the mid-price segment and distribution channels. The target customers for the new K-1 slacks probably don't shop at Sears or K-Mart for their clothes.

At a higher price piont, K-1 khakis should be sold in more exclusive stores, so if the new brand is unsuccessful, ending the line won't hurt the Dockers brand.

Oooh, what a good idea! Take some basic, low-cost pants and multiply the price by eight during one of the worst recessions in US history.

Whoever dreamed this up must have an MBA in Marketing.

After we kill all the lawyers, the MBA bozos gotta come next.

No, the MBA's don't "gotta" come next, the HAVE TO come next!!


I discovered "Bill's Khakis" several years ago. By far the best pair of pants I have ever owned and guess what,...they are made in America!

actually, the guy who designed this shop dropped out of college =)


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