Sunday, April 13, 2008

The deal on denim

Since blue jeans were invented by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss in 1873, the trousers' evolution from practical workwear to fitted fashion staple surely has been one to watch.

When I was growing up in upstate New York during the '70s, a local Army & Navy store advertised its inventory of Lee, Levi's and Wrangler jeans frequently in radio and TV spots. I pretty much wore any of those brands throughout grade school.


Then came the designer craze of the '80s, highlighted by the classic Calvin Klein ads featuring a teenage Brooke Shields. Competition was in full swing: Jordache, Gloria Vanderbilt, Guess? to name a few. Many women -- and men -- were wearing the designer du jour on their back pockets, and were willing to pay a premium for it.

Even I was willing to try out different brands, but was less willing to spend significantly more for them. I experimented with the relaxed fit of Guess? jeans in the '90s, and got them for at least half off at its factory outlet store at Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia. The jeans are quite durable; I still have them to this day.

Denim prices are coming down these days, but do they still make real deals like they used to? I can honestly say at this point, the answer would be yes -- though the jury's out on whether the Lucky Brand Jeans that I recently purchased from a Costco in Houston would last into the next decade.

That's right, Costco -- the wholesale shopping club where members can buy items in bulk. In the case of Lucky jeans, which retail from $88 to $150 for men, they cost $36.99 a pair at Costco. I wound up picking up two pair, which, even after the sales tax was added, still cost less than one pair of Luckys at the starting retail price.

So that's the deal, guys, while the gettin' is good.

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