The $500 Jeans Business Is ‘Hard-core, Dude’

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The director of the 1995 documentary about Isaac Mizrahi, Unzipped, created an Internet documentary series that seeks to answer this question: Are $200 jeans actually overpriced? And what is that about, anyway? Apparently, the designer denim business is "cutthroat," all because of the dye houses, which are a veritable denim battlefield. Only a handful of dye houses exist in the L.A. area, and designers constantly try to steal each other's ideas, such as chemical mixtures, scratching, and other effects, by sneaking around the dye houses. "It’s hard-core, dude. You’re on 'kill kill kill' mode. All day," says Chip Foster of Chip and Pepper. Labels try to sabotage each other by threatening to pull out of a dye house if they continue working with a label that's doing well and seen as a threat. So when you buy a $300 pair of jeans, you're either paying for: (a) a designer who will defend his vision like his new puppy, (b) the designer's pain and suffering, or (c) the designer who was wily enough to steal the idea you deem worthy of a couple hundred bucks. Of course this happens in L.A.

'Dirty Denim': Premium Jeans Designers Including J Brand and Chip & Pepper Come Clean [StyleList]