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Levi’s dENiZEN brand only for China

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Sending their first Asia-focus line down the runway, Levi’s dENiZEN label is not just made in China, but made for China and Chinese wallets.

`You’re not doing it right if you’re not in Asia` seems to be the new fashion business model these days, and the 137-year-old American clothing maker Levi’s is no exception. The brand launched its new line, dENiZEN, a combination of the words `denim` and `Zen` recently in Shanghai. According to Terence Tsang, the Head of dENiZEN, this was a first-ever product launch outside the United States for the American staple.

Although not changing the basic design on their clothes, dENiZEN is eyeing China’s lucrative 18 to 28 year-old demographic by making one significant alteration to their line: the prices. The new jeans range will sell for $ 40-60 in China, versus the $100+ prices in the United States. And it will, they hope, pull China’s budget-conscious consumers outside of the country’s economically booming first-tier cities into the brand.

Creating an interesting niche for itself, this clothing will be more expensive than the average Chinese brand, but will still offer western fashion at a price tag much lower than other major imported clothing brands. The line will be going register-to-register with established brands like H&M, Uniqlo and Zara, already in Shanghai.

Aaron Boey, President, Levi Strauss’s Asia-Pacific division, said that the brand is geared towards China’s “new group of consumers” who are value-conscious yet still hung up on brand names, especially international ones.

Although Levi’s plan is to expand across China, with around 200 outlets around China by Spring Festival 2011, they chose to launch the line in Shanghai, a city known for it’s fashion-forward citizens, and abundant new college graduates, looking for modern yet affordable clothing. dENiZEN’s next stops are Beijing and northern China before moving west.

“It’s a hugely significant market opportunity,” says Tsang. “We’re right between the premium and the masses.”

Levi’s isn`t alone in trying to single out the Chinese market with dedicated lines. French luxury brand Hermes, one of the few luxury brands that is more or less China-free (their scarves are only produced in France), announced that it will launch a new China-only line called Shang Xia in September. In May 2010, Chanel launched a collection of China-inspired accessories.

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