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Dockers debuts premium khaki at American Rag

March 26, 2010 |  6:00 am


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