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Levi to raise quality and price of classic 501 jeans

From Reuters

Levi Strauss & Co. is launching an updated line of its 501 jeans with higher prices to match, as the U.S. apparel maker seeks to increase sales despite the tough domestic economy.

John Anderson, chief executive of the privately held company, said Monday that current fashion and economic trends supported the launch during the second half of 2008, in time for the back-to-school season.

Anderson said Levi was launching the jeans in all 110 countries where its clothes were sold. There will be better fabric and finishes including untreated jeans that are dark and stiff and lighter jeans that are softer and more worn-in.

“We think it’s going to be a challenging year, and what a great time to step up as a market leader [with] a global message,” Anderson said.

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Levi is also pushing premium jeans, shirts and jackets and clothes for women as part of its growth strategy.

The San Francisco-based firm introduced the world’s first pair of jeans in 1873.

“We haven’t had a global launch like this in the last 10 years,” Anderson said, but declined to provide details on the launch’s cost, beyond calling it a “significant amount.”

Whereas the bulk of its jeans have historically sold for $25 to $35, Anderson said the new jeans would be in the $30 to $60 range, although the cheaper ones would still be available.

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