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Gap expands premium denim line, opens creative design office in L.A.

August 2, 2010 |  9:00 pm

It’s been a year since Gap overhauled its jeans selection, replacing its years-old styles with sexier and trendier ones that the company hoped would help improve its image among shoppers.Gapjeans2

Now it is opening a 5,400-square-foot creative design office in Los Angeles, expanding the 1969 Premium Jeans line for the fall and launching a dedicated jeans website at

“Our thought process a year ago when we went after this was to reclaim our heritage because denim has been the heart and soul of our brand,” said Marka Hansen, president of Gap North America. “We’re just really happy with where we’ve been, and we want to continue to put the pressure on the premium denim market and continue to take more share.”

The creative design office, at South Olive Street and West Pico Boulevard in downtown L.A., will allow the San Francisco retailer to be at the center of the denim industry and thus roll out new styles more quickly, said 1969 Creative Director Rosella Giuliani, who will run the location. The office will be responsible for the 1969 line and will house departments including design, merchandising, wash development and production.

“This is really where the entire world comes to see what’s new and what’s happening with denim,” she said. “You really feel the denim culture, and most of the premium players are out here.”

When Gap launched 1969 Premium Jeans last year, executives hoped the line would help the retailer capture a share of the designer denim market, which includes pricey labels such as True Religion, 7 for All Mankind and Citizens of Humanity.

Skeptics questioned whether the Gap jeans, starting at less than $60, could be accepted by shoppers as designer denim, which often costs $300 a pair.

But shoppers have responded well, said Wedbush Securities analyst Betty Chen, who noted that the jeans were well-timed to take advantage of frugal consumers who were still willing to spend on everyday apparel such as jeans.

“We think it has been a very successful relaunch for the Gap,” she said. “The general improvement in the fit and the washes overall has been received very positively by the consumer.”

The fall collection, which is rolling out in stores now, features new jeans styles including Zip Crop Always Skinny, Graphic Cuffed Real Straight and New Stretch Legging Jean.

-- Andrea Chang

Photo: Gap launched its 1969 Premium Jeans a year ago, the biggest overhaul of denim the company has ever done. Credit: Los Angeles Times