The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dressed up or down, it’s denim all the way
- no stopping the JEANs GENERATION

Boot cuts and basic blues, straight fits and sandblasted — they’re all the rage in town. Jeans are running amok, with varieties in brands, colours, styles and looks no longer an obstacle, and still more, national and international, pouring into the Calcutta market.

Last week, it was the turn of European company Lee Cooper to set up shop. The sixth exclusive store to be opened in India, on Shakespeare Sarani, will “redefine trends for the fashion-conscious youth” of the city, feels Gurbir Singh, CEO, Lee Cooper Apparels.

“It doesn’t matter where they are, Gen X has its own community, and they want the same things, be it Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai or Calcutta. They want high fashion, whatever is in and looks good. That is what we are providing, and we are sure the store will do well.”

The denim duel is on, and the battle of the brands is heating up. Everyone wears ‘em, and we all love ‘em, but what’s the latest in style and trend' While Levis is more popular in the high-price range, home-grown Bare is in demand in the low-cost category. In between, there’s Killer, Pepe, Lee, Lee Cooper, Wrangler and Moustache.

And whether it’s Westside, Pantaloons, Shoppers’ Stop or the Levis store, boot cuts are in, the worn-out and faded look is most popular and blue is definitely on top. While the older age group prefers the regular fit, the younger lot like to experiment. Among the fairer sex, the embellished variety, with embroidery, patchwork or even crystal studs, is a huge hit.

“The cheaper varieties are available from about Rs 650-750, which are quite popular. Around Rs 995 is the psychological barrier, when it comes to buying jeans,” explains R.S. Rekhi of Pantaloons. “Once people cross it, there’s no stopping them. Then, it’s quality that matters, not the price tag. In this regard, Bare is as popular as, say, Levis or Lee.”

According to Atul Agarwal, owner of the Levis Original Store, on Park Street, even though the prices are high, the sales are definitely not low. “The footfall in our shop is approximately 700 to 800 every month, of which around 60 to 70 per cent end up buying.” And P. Basu, floor manager, casuals, Shoppers’ Stop, says: “Our denim section is one of the most popular departments in the store. From little kids to 70-year-olds, all buy jeans. The variety now available is wide, for ladies, children and even men.”

So, what’s the attraction of denim' “Well, you can dress them up or down, depending on the occasion. And they’re very comfortable, so you can wear them anywhere and do anything,” replies actress Raima Sen, at the opening of the Lee Cooper store.

The sentiment is echoed by Singh, who feels jeans will never lose their appeal. “We decided to come here with our own exclusive outlet, because the product has been doing well and we wanted to give our customers the full range of what is available. We have a lot more variety, not all of which is on the shelves everywhere.”

He adds: “Lee Cooper has a lot of other stuff, including formal wear and shoes, which we have also brought to our outlet here. But, jeans are, and will remain, our most popular product. We plan to open more stores in Calcutta’s many shopping malls, because they are the future of shopping, besides the City Centre in Salt Lake.”

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